Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Vatican Museum is AWESOME!!!

It's been over a month since I came back from my big vacation, and this will only be my second post about the trip. (shaking head) I had such big plans for sharing all my adventures! Anyway, we started the second day of our vacation with a visit to Vatican City. As a little bit of background, I visited the City when I was twelve years old. For years, I thought that I had seen the Sistine Chapel while I was there. I mean, I knew the Chapel was inside the city, and I went inside the big church, so I must have seen it, right? I thought it was one of the decorations waaaay high up on the ceiling of one of the big domes in St Peter's Cathedral. Ha ha ha. It wasn't until we were planning this trip that I realized the Chapel was inside the Vatican Museum. And we didn't go to the museum when I was a kid. So I was very much looking forward to visiting the museum and finally getting a look at that famous ceiling.
We had originally planned to tour the museum on our own. We were there on the UN's Day of Tourism, which meant that entry to the museum was free, and the crowds were even larger than usual. The line to get inside was a couple of hours long, so Alton decided that we were going to pay for a guided tour and skip the long lines. I reluctantly agreed, and when all was said and done, I was very glad that we got the guide. He was quite knowledgeable, and I think he really enriched our musuem experience.
The museum is located inside apartments formerly used by the Pope for living and entertaining his guests. Artwork aside, the building itself is a treat to observe. The museum's wings surround a large courtyard from which you can get an excellent view of the dome of St Peter's Cathedral:

Of course, the courtyard itself was pretty interesting too. I just love peacocks, so I was thrilled with the decor on this side of the building:

On one of other walls, I was amused by the giant head tucked into one of the niches:

I had noticed several women in old-fashioned nurse uniforms throughout the first part of our museum tour, but in the courtyard, there were a huge number of them, all with an older gentleman in military dress in her care. Well, I THINK they are nurses. I tried to find information about them on the internet and failed miserably. Maybe someone else has a clue?

I loved looking at the artwork built into the walls themselves:

and the ceilings:

The statuary was breathtaking:

This next one is a rather famous piece called "Laocoon and his sons". It's over 2000 years old, and, at one point, had been reassembled incorrectly:

There were three parts of the museum that I found particularly breathtaking. The first was the tapestry gallery. Image after image was beautifully woven into fabric. Check out this sweet lion:

Next on my list of awesomeness was the map room. I love maps, and just look at this ceiling stretching out above our heads!

The photo can't really catch how the ceiling really glowed over our heads. I'll bet it looks awesome in candlelight too! And did you notice a certain tall, handsome man in green ahead of me in the picture?
The last place we visited in the museum was the Sistine Chapel. And no, I did not take this picture inside the chapel. Sadly, no photos are allowed, so this is just a quick shot a took of a poster outside in that giant courtyard I was talking about at the begin of this post.

Wow, wow, wow! What a beautiful place to worship. Even with the room stuffed to the gills with tourists, you could sense the majesty of this place. We were warned before we entered the chapel that we could not take photos and we were not supposed to talk inside. Sadly, there were two security officers at the top of the chamber who would shout, "Shhh! Silencio!" every few seconds. Kind of ruined the solemnity of the experience. As we left the chapel, we paused near a black char mark on the floor of the chapel. This mark was left by the brazier used to tell the world how the voting for a new pope was going. Wow. Did I say wow already?
Tomorrow, energy allowing, I'm going to share with you my hunt for the elusive pink nuns. Intrigued? Confused? Think I'm making things up? Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Chris said...

Beautiful pics! Anxiously awaiting more of them :)