Top Attractions of Rome Vatican Museums Musei Vaticani

What started as just a small collection of sculptures has, over the centuries, turned into a complex of the world's most magnificent museums featuring one of the finest collections of art on the planet.

History of the Museums

Vatican Museums, Rome
Vatican Museums
Ceiling -detail,-Vatican-Museums
 Ceiling painting, Vatican Museums
Ceiling -detail,-Vatican-Museums
Ceiling detail, Vatican Museums
Gallery of Maps, Vatican Museums

 Gallery of Maps
 Perugia, Gallery of Maps, Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums were founded under the patronage of two eighteenth-century popes - Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799) - who were among the first to open collections of art to the general public for viewing, therefore promoting culture among the masses. Appropriately, the first building in the museum complex, the Pio-Clementine Museum, was named after these two pontiffs.

As the decades passed, more popes added to the already impressive collection of diverse artworks owned and displayed by the Vatican. Today, there are thirteen museums in about fourteen Vatican palaces that are included on tours of the Vatican Museum complex. The building complex is worth a visit in itself as all rooms and hallways are lavishly decorated with marble and frescoes.

The Museums


 Former entrance of the Vatican Museums


 Statues on top of the former entrance, Vatican Museums

The many museums that make up the Vatican complex are quite diverse. Nonetheless, each is interesting to explore and which you enjoy most will largely depend on your artistic preferences. 

Cortile della Pigna (Pinecone courtyard)
 Pine cone (ancient fountain), Cortile della Pigna

Laocoon sculpture, Vatican Museum, Rome
Cybele-goddess -of-fertility-Vatican-Museums
 Statue of Goddess Cybele, goddess of fertility, Vatican Museums

 Antinous as Dionysus-Osiris, Vatican Museums

 Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila, Vatican Museums
The Gregorian Egyptian Museum was founded in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI, who had a keen interest in Egypt. Featuring nine rooms, objects d'art in this museum range from stelae and hieroglyphics from around 2500 AD to Roman replicas of Egyptian statues from the second century AD. Not to miss here is the collection of mummies from around 1000 BC that were found at the Necropolis of Deir el-Bahri in Thebes. 

La Pudicizia, Vatican Museums
Mummy in the Vatican Museums

Colossus of the Nile, Vatican Museums
  The Gregorian Etruscan Museum was founded by the same Pope. Here you'll find utensils from the pre-Roman era such as a collection of terra-cotta vases. The highlight of the collection is a series of objects found in a necropolis, among them a throne and a carriage.

The Vatican Pinacoteca, one of the newer museums - opened in 1932 - is, technically, a picture gallery. Paintings range in age from the twelfth to nineteenth centuries and include entire rooms devoted to the works of such greats as Raphael and Caravaggio. There's also a unique display of religious icons from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century.

Founded by Pius XI in 1926, the Ethnological Missionary Museum features objects of a religious nature from four geographical areas - Asia, Oceania, Africa, and America. About 80,000 pieces make up the total collection for this particular museum.

The largest collections of the Vatican Museum are those with ancient Roman and Greek art. Some of the most famous objects of art can be found in the Pio-Clementine Museum such as the famous Laocoön statue, the Apoxyomenos and the Apollo del Belvedere. Another interesting museum with Roman art is the Museo Gregoriano Profano, where you'll find a number of Roman replicas of original Greek statues.
Red-porphry-bowl-from -ero's-Domus-Aurea
 Red porphry bowl from Nero's Domus Aurea
Other museums include the Collection of Modern Religious Art, founded by Pope Paul VI in 1973 and featuring 55 rooms; the Pio Christian Museum (with the Christian and Hebrew Lapidary); Tapestries; Ceramics; Miniature Mosaics; Museo Sacro; Gregorian Profane Museum; and the Vatican Historical Museum, which provides a fascinating look at the long and sometimes turbulent history of the Vatican.

Sistine Chapel and Stanze of Raphael


 Ceiling Fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums
 The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
 Fresco in Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael's Room)

One of the highlights of the Vatican Museums is the famous Sistine Chapel, where visitors can enjoy not only Michelangelo's magnificent ceiling but also a host of other wonderful works of art, including the The Last Judgment on the altar wall, from the same artist. (Bring binoculars for a better view.)

The ceiling painting, which depicts scenes from the Old Testament, is one of the world's most famous works of art and attracts up to twenty thousand people every day.

In addition, the four rooms known as the Stanze of Raphael, once the residence of Pope Julius II, feature the works of Raphael and his assistants. The most famous fresco in these rooms is the "School of Athens", a masterwork of perspective painting.


Staircase at the Vatican Museums
Vatican Staircase
Before exiting the museum you have the chance to admire one of the world's most famous staircases. Designed in 1932 by Giuseppe Momo, the staircase consists of a double helix, one leading up and one leading down. The beautiful bronze staircase is decorated with papal coats of arms.

Visiting the Vatican Museums

Once you've purchased your tickets for admission to the Vatican Museums, you can choose to follow one of four color-coded itineraries that range from 1.5 hours to more than 5 hours. All itineraries end in the Sistine Chapel. Even with a five-hour tour, it's impossible to see everything there is to admire, but you'll get a good overview and hit the most well-known highlights of these magnificent museums.


Top Attractions of Munich Germany " Olympiapark"

When the Olymiapark was planned for the XXth Olympic Games in 1972, the designers had the long-term needs in mind. In contrary to many olympic sites in other cities around the world, the different centers built for the olympics are still used and the Olympiapark has become one of Munich's major tourist attractions.

Olympic Park
The site contains an ice rink, an indoor pool, a residential district and student residences and of course the Olympic Stadium, which was the home of the main local soccer team, FC Bayern München until they moved to the futuristic Allianz arena in 2006. The Olympic stadium can seat 80,000 
Olympic Stadium
people and the Olympic hall 14,000.
The adventurous can take part in a roof-climb, which consists of a tour on top of the roof covering the Olympic Stadium.

The Olympic site was built by Günther Behmisch, Frei Otto & Partners and became world-known mainly because of the futuristic tent-like roof construction. It covers the Olympic stadium, Olympiahall and the swimming pool. The roof covering the main stadium consists of a PVC-coated polyester fabric.

The 3 sq km (1 sq mi) large olympic park has now blended in with the city and is easily reachable via the U-bahn (underground). Situated close to the city center, it was built on a terrain used by the Bayern army until 1925 when it became part of the Munich airport. After the second world war in 1945, the rubble cleared from the city was moved here, forming the basis of the hilly landscape of the Olympiapark.

For a good overview of the Olympic site, you can either walk to the top of the 60 meters (197ft) high hill in the Olympiapark, the Olympiaberg or you can go take the elevator to the 189 and 192 meter-high platforms on the Olympiaturm, a 290-meter (951ft) high television tower. If you find it too windy on the platform, you can also have a view on the city of Munich from the revolving restaurant in the tower.


Top Attractions of Rome Vatican City (Città del Vaticano)

The world's smallest country, Vatican City occupies 0.44 sq km (about .2 square miles) and is completely encircled by the city of Rome. Vatican City serves as the spiritual center for millions of practicing Roman Catholics worldwide.

But Vatican City is also a tourist magnet thanks to the presence of some of Rome's most popular attractions, including the St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, home to the Sistine Chapel. 

Usually referred to as a City State and often called "The Holy See", Vatican City is home to about 800 residents. None of them are permanent. The population of this tiny area, which surrounds St. Peter's Basilica, is made up of priests, nuns, guards, high-ranking dignitaries and, of course, the pope, and is constantly changing.

History of Vatican City

Vatican City wasn't always this small. In the mid-19th century, the Papal States covered approximately 44,000 square km (17,000 sq mi). However, during the next decade and the struggle for Italian unification, the majority of these states officially became a part of the country of Italy.

The pope's power was abolished and the papal territory was confined to the Vatican. In 1929, the Treaty of Lateran gave The Holy See autonomy, officially establishing this tiny area that attracts millions of visitors each year. The city state is protected by its own military, the strangely-clad Swiss Guards.

St. Peter's Square



St. Peter's Square

Guests enter Vatican City through expansive St. Peter's Square. The square was laid out by Bernini during the pontificates of Alexander VII and of Clement IX (1657-1667). Visitors to this magnificent square (which is actually an ellipse) are surrounded by two huge colonnades, with 284 Doric columns arranged in 4 rows, atop which stand 140 statues of saints.

In the center of the square, you'll find a 25.31-meter-tall (83 ft) Egyptian obelisk, brought to Rome by Caligula in 38 AD from Heliopolis, located on the Nile Delta. Fountains are situated on either side of the obelisk. The one sitting on the right was placed in this location by Bernini and was made by Carlo Maderno. The other was created by Carlo Fontana.

Thousands of guests gather in the square to hear blessings from the pope or to participate in masses, especially on religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

St. Peter's Basilica



St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica, the crowning glory of Vatican City, is the most important church in the world. The cornerstone of this church was laid more than 500 years ago, in 1506. The magnificent altars and monuments inside the church are too numerous to mention, but even those who aren't art aficionados will be wowed by what they'll find inside this amazing basilica, including more works by the renowned sculptor/architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini and also Michelangelo's Pietà.

The enormous dome of St. Peter's is accessed from an elevator to the roof. Once you've reached the top of the elevator, 323 additional steps take you to the best view of Rome from anywhere in the city.

 Swiss Guard

The Swiss Guards

Near the entrance of the basilica you will probably encounter some of the famous Swiss Guards. Since 1506 when pope Julius II invited Helvetian soldiers to join the small Vatican army, they have been the guards of the Vatican and the pope in particular. All entrants to the army must be Swiss, Catholic and they must take the oath of loyalty to the pope. This oath is taken May 26th, to commemorate the sacking of Rome on the same day in 1527 when Swiss guards protected pope Clement VII during his escape to Castel Sant'Angelo. Of the 189 guards, only 42 survived.

Vatican Museums




 Pinecone courtyard


Governorate Palace

Vatican City is also home to the expansive Vatican Museums, which boasts one of the most impressive art collections in the world. Some of the most famous works of art on display here include the wall and ceiling paintings of the Sistine Chapel, the Stanze of Raphael, the Lacoön statue and the Apollo del Belvedere. A tour of the museums is a must for any visitor to Rome.

Finding Your Way Around

Vatican City is an amazing place, so you'll want to be sure you don't miss a thing. The Vatican has its own tourist office on the left side of the piazza which is a good place to begin your visit. Here you can book tours of Vatican City's gardens and purchase maps and other guide books for self-guided tours of the square, basilica, and museums.

By the way, rumor has it that the Vatican's postal system is better than that of the city of Rome, so be sure to mail your postcards there! 

Scale Model of Vatican City


Top Attractions Of Paris Champs-Elysées (Avenue des Champs-Elysées)

The Avenue des Champs-Elysées is probably the most famous avenue in the world. This impressive street stretches from the Place the la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle, the site of the Arc de Triomphe.




 Champs-Elysées seen from the Arc de Triomphe

Jardins des Champs-Elysées
The Champs-Elysées is almost two kilometers long and seventy meters wide. At its western end the street is bordered by cinemas, theaters, cafés and luxury shops. On the opposite end, near the Place de la Concorde, the street is bordered by the Jardins des Champs-Elysées, beautifully arranged gardens with fountains and some grand buildings including the Grand and Petit Palais at the southern side and the Elysée at its northern side. The latter has been the residence of the French Presidents since 1873.


The Champs-Elysées is used for all the major celebrations. This is where Parisians celebrate New Year's Eve and where the military parades are held on the 14th of July. Historic national events, like the Liberation at the end of the second World War or the victory in the World Cup football were also celebrated on this wide avenue.

Seventeenth century - The Elysian Fields



In the sixteenth century this area was nothing but fields outside the center of Paris. In 1616 Marie de Medicis decided to create a long tree-lined path going east from the Tuileries. The route was redesigned in 1667 by renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre as an extension of the Jardins des Tuileries. The promenade, now called 'Grande Allée du Roule' or 'Grand-Cours' had become a fashionable place but was still isolated from the city with few buildings surrounding the area.

Twenty-seven years later the promenade was renamed to 'Champs-Elysées', or Elysian Fields in English. The name was derived from Greek mythology where 'Elusia' is a place where heroes come to relax.

Eighteenth & nineteenth centuries - Further Development



In 1724 the Champs-Elysées was extended all the way to the Chaillot hill (now known as l'Etoile, the site of the Arc de Triomphe). Its current form took shape in 1838 when French architect Ignaz Hittorf - who was redesigning the Place de la Concorde - created the Jardins des Champs-Elysées. He also installed sidewalks, gas lamps and fountains. The Champs-Elysées started to attract more and more restaurants and hotels, especially after 1900 when the Paris metro line nr 1 reached the Etoile station.

Current Design

The lastest redesign of the prestigious avenue was done in 1994 by Bernard Huet. The side lanes were converted into pedestrian zones, an underground parking lot was created and new trees were planted. Cars now only occupy half the width of this grand avenue.


Top Attractions of Athens, Greece, The Parthenon (Παρθενών)

The Parthenon, an icon of Western civilization, is one of the most famous buildings in the world. The temple was built in the fifth century BC and overlooks the city of Athens from its majestic position on top of the sacred Acropolis Hill.
Close-up view of the Parthenon
The Parthenon was built in honor of the goddess Athena Parthenos (virgin Athena), patroness of the city of Athens. Initially the temple was known as the Great Temple (Megas Naos), but later became known by the name of Parthenon.


The current Parthenon was not the first temple built here during the Antiquity. There are traces of two earlier - and slightly smaller - temples, the first in stone, and the second in marble.

Parthenon at night
 Detail of the Parthenon
 Shortly after the Persians destroyed all the buildings on the Acropolis in 480 BC, Pericles commissioned the construction of a new large temple and assigned architect and sculptor Pheidias the supervision of the project. The design of the Parthenon is attributed to Kallikrates and Iktinos. Construction started in 447 BC and the temple was completed just nine years later. Pheidias continued to work on the magnificent sculptures that decorated the temple until 432 BC.

After the Antiquity the Parthenon was converted into a church and during the Ottoman occupation of Athens it was used as an arsenal. It became a ruin only in 1687 when the Venetians, who besieged the Ottomans, bombarded the Acropolis from the Philopappos Hill. 
Detail of the inner frieze
The ammunition that was stored in the Parthenon exploded, destroying the roof, the interior and fourteen columns.

The Temple

The Parthenon was built as a peripteros - a temple surrounded by columns - in the Doric order. The temple measures 30.86 by 69.51 meters (approx. 101 x 228 ft) and contained two cellae (inner chambers). The east cella housed the Athena Parthenos, a large statue of the goddess Athena. The west cella was exclusively used by priests and contained the treasury of the Delian League (an alliance of Greek city-states).

The Parthenon was decorated with numerous sculptures and reliefs. There were some fifty sculptures on the pediments alone; most of the surviving sculptures are on display at the British Museum in London, while some are at the nearby Acropolis Museum. There were two friezes: the inner frieze at the cellae and the outer frieze, which consisted of triglyphs (vertical stripes) and metopes (rectangular tablets) with relief sculptures. The inner frieze was designed by Pheidias and depicted the Panathenaea, the festival held in honor of Athena. Many of the metopes and parts of the inner frieze can be seen in the British Museum as well.
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To achieve visual perfection, the creators of the Parthenon used optical refinements to seemingly defy the laws of perspective. The columns are slightly slanted inwards and have a curved shape. This results in making the horizontal and vertical lines of the building look perfectly straight to the naked eye.

Most people think that ancient temples always had natural, plain marble colors. But the buildings and statues in the Antiquity were often very colorful. The Parthenon was no exception: sculptures on the friezes and pediment as well as the roof were brightly painted in blue, red and gold colors.

Statue of Athena Parthenos

A neoclassical-statue-of-Athena-Vienna.
 A neoclassical statue of Athena stands in front of the Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna.

The main purpose of the temple was to house the close to twelve meters tall statue of Athena Parthenos, created by Pheidias. The statue was chryselephantine - made of gold and ivory - and built around a wooden frame. And like all other Parthenon sculptures, the statue was painted in bright colors, mainly blue and red.
Athena was depicted standing as a helmeted martial goddess. Her left hand rested on a shield and in her right hand she held a statue of a winged Nike. Unfortunately the original statue is lost but a modern full-scale replica of the Athena Parthenos (and the Parthenon) can be seen in Nashville, TN, in the United States.
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