February 7, 2020

View from the Dome: Vatican

Vatican City from Saint Peter's

It was the day before Christmas and we were so blessed to be part of some kind of a miracle. Imagine, on the day before the birth of Jesus Christ, the most important figure in Christianity, there was very scarce people all across Rome. The whole country of Vatican City is located in the heart of the Italian capital of Rome. Yes, this 'city' is also a whole country which is entirely independent even if it's landlocked inside the realms of Rome.

We took the City Wonders tour and availed of their Saint Peter's Basilica and Dome Climbing Experience for €29. This includes a very informative tour guide that went with us from the meetup place near Porto Angelica all the way to the entrance to the elevator that took us all the way to the Dome's entrance. Aside from the Dome experience, it also includes a tour on your own inside the Saint Peter's Basilica.

Facade of Saint Peter's Basilica

We were waiting for our guide before 8 in the morning by McDonald's near Porto Angelica just across the 'border' of Italy and the Vatican. Aside from my family of four, we were also joined by a group of other pilgrims and travelers from New York, Australia, and Denmark. It was very cold that morning at about 5 degrees Celsius but we were very excited. The audio guides that connects us directly to our guide's lapel were distributed and we started our short walk to the Vatican City. 

As you walk along the halls and corridors outside the basilica, the mighty and handsome Swiss guards will greet your sights. Dressed in bright and colorful uniforms, these Swiss men are employed to take care of the Pope and of the Vatican. Up until now, this is a coveted position which is only open to single men with Swiss citizenship who have completed basic training with the Swiss Armed Forces. Recruits must have at least a high school diploma or a professional degree and must be at least 174 cm in height (5 feet 8.5 inches).

Swiss Guards

We passed by the facade of the Basilica which is painted with a very soft glow of sunlight. And just as I told above, there were very few people that morning despite the holidays and more to it, a day before the birth of Jesus Christ. The security line was very short than usual as per our guide. we then walked a few more hundred meters until we reached the entrance to the elevator. 

The elevator ride will take you straight to the roofs of the Basilica but not all the way to the top of the dome. On our way, we were taken by our tour guide to a place where we can see the whole interior of the church from above or we can say the base of the dome. It was quite scary especially for people like me who quite have this fear of heights, but for safety, the walk way is enclosed by welded wires which let me take this photo below without falling.

Above and Below the Dome Entrance

It was a sight to behold. The interior of the dome is just so grand with so many intricate and artistic paintings of different saints. It's vast size is just a marvelous sight that will leave you staring at it for quite a while. When we looked below, it was quiet and solemn and there were no visitor allowed during that time yet because officials are busy preparing for the Christmas Eve mass that is about to happen that evening where the Pope will preside the celebration in front of thousands of people.

Before we started our ascent, our tour guide from City Wonders took back our audio receivers and bade us goodbye for we will now be on our own going to the top of the Dome.

Note: For self-guided visits, the fee to visit the dome via the stairs is €8, while if you wish to take the elevator, the fee is €10.
"Ladder of the First External Railing"

If you wish to start your climb from the ground, it will take you a total of 551 steps. But since we already took the elevator, we only needed to climb the remaining 320 steps. 320 narrow steps that are made up of a variety of materials from metal steps to wooden steps to marble and also concrete platforms. One should be extra careful in climbing up to the dome because there are parts wherein the stairs are steep and the roof above you is irregularly shaped due to the dome's structure.

After all the 320 steps, we arrived at the viewing deck of the dome's top. the view was magnificent! 

Me, Cousin Carmina, Uncle Carlos, and Aunt Vicky

Seeing almost the whole of Rome is breath-taking especially in that beautiful quiet morning of Christmas Eve. To share this experience with my cousin, aunt, and uncle is very much memorable and I feel very grateful! Thank you Lord Jesus for this peaceful and heart-warming morning that I get to spend on top of the most important church in the Catholic faith.

Winter Sun over Rome


The sun was shinning beautiful over the golden and grandeur of Rome. The hills are truly alive at the embrace of the winter sunshine. Rome is a sight to see, no matter which way you may view it.

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Below is a VLOG Episode from my YouTube Channel - "Steven's Queue". This 85th episode is all about this experience that I and my family had memorably shared at the Vatican. Feel free to watch it and also visit my YouTube channel for more of my adventures captured just for all of you!


Never Give Up Climbing Ladders!
Steve

This post is part of Skywatch Friday that features different views of the sky around the world. Visit Skywatch and go on tour around the globe seeing sunrises, sunsets and so much more than the sky that you know at http://skyley.blogspot.in/