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Architecture in Vatican City

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Vatican
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St. Peters Basilica
The largest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica is more than just the most important building in Christendom. It is a jewel within Vatican City from where Popes have spread the word of God throughout the world. The Basilica is a focal point of millions of pilgrims each year, but it is also a true cultural, historical and architectural landmark. The classic Renaissance structure holds within itself treasures from millennia including paintings, sculptures, artefacts and the art decorated on the walls. A visit to St. Peter’s Basilica is a treat to the senses and the soul!
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Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel, located in the Vatican Palace is famous for its Renaissance frescoes by Michelangelo, painted between 1508 and 1512. The frescoes are the cornerstone work of High Renaissance art and a must see while visiting Vatican City.
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Roman Colosseum
Known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Roman Colosseum is one of the capital's most remarkable monuments. Every year over 6 million people visit it. The Colosseum is the main symbol of Rome. It is an imposing construction that, with almost 2,000 years of history, will bring you back in time to discover the way of life in the Roman Empire. The construction of the Colosseum began in the year 72 under the empire of Vespasian and was finished in the year 80 during the rule of the emperor Titus. After completion, the Colosseum became the greatest Roman amphitheatre, measuring 188 meters in length, 156 meters in width and 57 meters in height. During the Roman Empire and under the motto of "Bread and Circuses" the Roman Colosseum (known then as Flavian Amphitheatre) allowed more than 50,000 people to enjoy its finest spectacles. The exhibitions of exotic animals, executions of prisoners, recreations of battles and gladiator fights kept the Roman people entertained for years. The Colosseum remained active for over 500 years. The last recorded games in history were celebrated in the 6th century. Since the 6th century the Colosseum has suffered lootings, earthquakes and even bombings during World War Two. Demonstrating a great survival instinct, the Colosseum was used for decades as a storehouse, church, cemetery and even a castle for nobility. At present the Colosseum is, along with the Vatican City, Rome's greatest tourist attraction. Each year 6 million tourists visit it. On 7 July 2007 the Colosseum became one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
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Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine was erected in the year 315 in commemoration of the victory of Constantine I the Great in the Battle of Milvian Bridge. It is located between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. Constructed from pieces of previous buildings, the Arch of Constantine is the most modern of the triumphal arches that were built in ancient Rome. It is 21 meters high, 25 meters wide and is made up of three arches. The Arch of Constantine is one of the best preserved monuments from ancient Rome. Thanks to its excellent location it is one of the most representative and photographed points of the city.
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Trajan's Market
Situated on Via dei Fori Imperiali, Trajan's Market is an archaeological complex that currently holds the Museum of Imperial Forums (Museo dei Fori Imperiali). It is considered to be Rome’s first “shopping center”. The complex, made of red brick and concrete, had six levels in which there was once up to 150 different shops and apartments. When you visit the Imperial Forum Museum, you can stroll through Mercati di Traiano's various levels, as well as admiring several exhibitions that show the Imperial Forums' different aspects. The exhibitions are comprised of models and videos that accompany the various remains that are left from the Imperial Forums to try to transport visitors to classical Roman times. Although it does not enjoy as much fame as the Colosseum, Trajan's Market maintains an important part of its original appearance and offers a really interesting visit.
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Palatine Hill
Located 40 meters above the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill is the most central of the seven hills of Rome and forms one of the oldest parts of the city. The Palatine Hill is considered to be the birthplace of the Italian capital and is believed to have been inhabited since the year 1000 B.C. During the Republican Period Roman citizens belonging to the upper class settled in the Palatine Hill and built sumptuous palaces, of which important traces are still preserved. n the Palatine Hill you can see hundreds of ruins of the imposing buildings that were created for high Roman society in ancient times. Although the whole scene is impressive, these are some of the points that deserve special attention: Domus Flavia, House of Livia, House of Augustus, Farnese Gardens, Hippodrome of Domitian and Palatine museum. The Palatine Hill is a very pleasant place for a quiet stroll under the shadow of the trees while passing many of the preserved corners of ancient Rome.
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Roman Forum
The Roman Forum was where religious and public life in ancient Rome took place. The Forum is, along with the Colosseum, the greatest sign of the splendour of the Roman Empire that can be seen today. After the fall of the Empire, the Roman Forum was forgotten and little by little it was buried under the earth. Although in the 16th century the existence and location of the Forum was already known, it was not until the 20th century that excavations were carried out. Interestingly, the place where the Forum was built was originally a marshy area. In the 6th century B.C. the area was drained by means of the Cloaca Maxima, one of the first sewer systems in the world.
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Trevi Fountain
The Trevi fountain, inspired by Roman triumphal arches, is the largest and most famous Baroque fountain in Rome (standing 25.9 meters high and 19.8 meters wide). In 1629, Pope Urban VIII, asked Bernini to sketch possible renovations of the fountain, finding it insufficiently theatrical. After the Pope's death the project was abandoned. Bernini's lasting contribution was to situate the fountain from the other side of the square to face the Quirinal Palace (so that the Pope could see and enjoy it). The Trevi Fountain as we know it today, was designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 and competed in 1762. The central figures of the fountain are Neptun (God of the sea), flanked by two Tritons. One struggles to master a very unruly "seahorse", the other lead a far more docile animal. These symbolize the two contrasting moods of the sea. Appropriately for a fountain resembling a stage set, the theatrical Trevi Fountain has been the star of many films shot in Rome, including romantic films such as "Three coins in a fountain" and "Roman holiday", but also "La dolce vita", Federico Fellini's satirical portrait of Rome in the 1950s.
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Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese of Rome is one of the largest urban parks in Europe. The State acquired the gardens from the Borghese family in 1901 and opened them to the public on 12 July 1903. What differentiates Villa Borghese from other large parks such as Hyde Park or Central Park is the perfect combination between nature and Roman art. Villa Borghese is home to interesting architectural elements, sculptures, monuments and fountains created at different times by famous artists. If you have enough time in Rome, travel with children or are looking for a little relaxation, the Villa Borghese is a mandatory stop in your itinerary. If you want to tour the Villa Borghese and take advantage of the time to do some exercise, it is possible to rent rollerblades, bicycles and other forms of transportation at the main gates.
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Roman Pantheon
The Pantheon, completed in 126 AD, was a Roman temple with a surprising oculus that is the building's main source of natural light. The Pantheon of Agrippa, also known as the Roman Pantheon, is one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian capital. It is the best preserved building from ancient Rome. The construction of the current Pantheon was carried out during the reign of Hadrian, in the year 126 A.D. The name of Agrippa comes from the place in which the current building is built, which was previously occupied by the Pantheon of Agrippa, built in the year 27 B.C and that was destroyed in a fire in the year 80 A.D. At the beginning of the 7th century the building was donated to the Pope Boniface IV, who transformed it into a church, in which function it currently finds itself in a perfect state of preservation. In the interior of the Pantheon the tombs of numerous Italian kings and a multitude of art works are found. The best-known person who can be found buried in the Pantheon is without doubt the painter and Renaissance architect Raphael. The outskirts of the Pantheon are usually full of people at all hours, either photographing the imposing building or having a traditional supper in some of the terraces of the Piazza della Rotonda while they enjoy the shows put on by different street artists.
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Trastevere
Trastevere is one of the most pleasant neighbourhoods in the city. Its peaceful and bohemian atmosphere is capable of dazzling tourists without failing to attract assiduous Roman citizens. The life of the neighbourhood is especially concentrated around the Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, where you can see the ancient Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere. The great fountain in front of the temple serves as a meeting place, a resting spot, or simply somewhere to have an ice cream on a hot day. A walk through the narrow cobbled streets of the Trastevere shows hidden treasures such as modest medieval churches, small shops with the most unusual objects, or even some scenes of everyday life seemingly taken from a forgotten age.
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Castel Sant Angelo
Known as Hadrian's Tomb, the Castel Sant'Angelo is a fortress located on the right bank of the Tiber, a short distance from the Vatican City. Construction of the building began in the year 135 under the direction of the Emperor Hadrian, who intended to use it as mausoleum for himself and his family. It was finished in the year 139 and a short time later, it became a military building, which in the year 403 would be integrated to the Aurelian Walls. The Castel Sant'Angelo is split into five floors which can be reached by a spiral ramp that first reaches the chamber of ashes and subsequently the cells in which a number of historical figures were incarcerated. Advancing toward the upper part of the castle you will find different rooms that functioned as a Papal residence, decorated with perfectly preserved frescoes from the Renaissance period, besides the extensive collection of weapons. In the upper floor there is a large terrace where you can take amazing photographs of the city from above. Advancing toward the upper part of the castle you will find different rooms that functioned as a Papal residence, decorated with perfectly preserved frescoes from the Renaissance period, besides the extensive collection of weapons. In the upper floor there is a large terrace where you can take amazing photographs of the city from above.
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Basilica of St. Peter
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest temples for Christendom and one of the largest churches in the world. Besides, it is where the Pope presides many liturgies all year round. The construction of the new basilica began in 1506, when the old basilica had been torn down, and was finished in 1626. It was consecrated on 18 November, 1626. Several renowned architects designed the temple, highlighting the works of Bramante, Michelangelo and Carlo Maderno. The basilica was called St Peter’s after one of Jesus’s twelve disciples known as Saint Peter, who became one of the founders of the Catholic Church and was executed in Rome and buried where the Basilica now stands. Visiting St Peter’s Basilica is an unforgettable experience when staying in Rome. Visitors mustn’t miss out on climbing to the top of the dome, where a stunning view of St Peter’s Square, and if the day is clear of most of the city, awaits them.
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Palazzo dei Papi
The Pope's residence was established in the bishop's palace which, for the occasion, it was enlarged and adapted to the magnificence and solemnity required for a papal seat.
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The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the four Papal basilicas of Rome, together with Saint Peter, Saint John in the Lateran and Saint Paul Outside the Walls.
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Fontana Maggiore
The Fontana Maggiore was created between 1278 and 1280 by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano to celebrate the completion of the new aqueduct. It was designed by Friar Bevignate, with the aid, for the hydraulic side, of Boninsegna from Venice.
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Cathedral of San Lorenzo
Built in the XV Century as a replacement for the earlier Romanesque cathedral, is situated in an area considered sacred since the archaic age, as testified in the several layers recently came to light.
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The Cathedral of Grosseto
Bishop Rolando, who supported Innocent II during the schism of Anacletus, obtained authorisation to transfer the seat of the See of Rosellana to Grosseto from Innocent II on 9 April 1138. During the 12 C, the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta was the cathedral of Grosseto. It was located more or less in the position the apse of the current cathedral which was finished in 1294, as shown by two dated stone in the façade and inside of the church, one dated 1294 and the other 1295. The present Cathedral of Grosseto is dedicated to San Lorenzo and was built under the supervision of the Siennese Sozzo da Rustichino. The belfry tower was added in 1402 during a period of Siennese domination. (It was restored and modified in 1911.) The façade has lost its original appearance, having been completely rebuilt between 1816 and 1855, but some evidence of the original cathedral has been preserved, notably the symbols of the Evangelists. Between 1859 and 1865, another major restoration gave to the inside of the cathedral a "neo-gothic" appearance that it did not have previously. The major art works are a Baptism Font and the altar of the Madonna of the Graces, both the work of Antonio di Paolo Ghini from between 1470 and 1474, the marvelous Madonna of the Graces by Matteo di Giovanni, also from 1470, and the right side of the cathedral which is in the Siennese style.
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The Tower of Mangia
Looming 102 meters over the Piazza del Campo, the elegant, sleek tower to the Palazzo Pubblico is the third tallest in all of Italy. Built from red brick, as a symbol of its affinity to the “commoner” the tower is 87 meters tall of brick and the remaining is a white travertine, most probably to make it visually more prominent.
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The Duomo in Siena
The Duomo in Siena lies in a piazza above the Piazza del Campo, a great Gothic building filled with treasures by Pisano, Donatello and Michelangelo as well as frescoes by Pinturicchio.
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Capodimonte Royal Palace And Museum
In 1738 Charles of Bourbon decided to transform his hunting lodge located in the wood of “Capodimonte” in a Royal Palace – Museum in order to host the Farnese Collection received from his mother.
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Santa Chiara Church and Cloister
Near the Gesú Nuovo church, there is the monumental complex of Santa Chiara, one of the most important buildings commissioned by the French Kingdom of Anjou for the Franciscan order. Built in 1340, it is a rare example of Medieval architecture in Napoli. The convent was to accommodate both monks and nuns in two separate buildings but at the same time depending on the same church. The church was then built in a simple Gothic style, with the typical Neapolitan yellow tufa. Unfortunately, the church has been reconstructed changing the original features into the Baroque style with marbles, polychrome stuccos and exorbitant decorative elements by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro between 1742 and 1769. Sadly, in 1943 the church was partially bombed during the second world war. It was decided that it would be rebuilt in its original Gothic style. It was reopened in 1953. Most of the antiques sculptures have returned to their original location, including the splendid tombs of the member of the Anjou family, like the monumental tomb of Robert of Anjou dated 1343, the tomb of Mary Valois, second wife of Robert, and his son's tomb. A small part of a fresco still remains from the medieval decoration attributed to Giotto (who stayed in Napoli between 1328 and 1333) and his workshop. The fine cloister outside the church is richly decorated with majolica tiles and it is a pure gem of the eighteenth century, designed by Domenico Antionio Vaccaro. He left the original medieval plan of the cloister but redesigning parts of it, adding two wide paths in the middle, the fine majolica decorations on the pillars with motif of vine shoots and wisteria twisting up, flowers, lemons while the seats are decorated with scenes of the city and country life in the eighteenth century.
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Piazza del Plebiscito
This noble semicircular piazza (19th Century) is enclosed on one side by the royal palace, on the other by the neoclassical façade of the church of San Francesco di Paola, built on the model of the Pantheon in Rome and prolonged by a curving colonnade. Two equestrian statues stand in front of the church: one, by Canova, depicts Ferdinand I of Bourbon, the other is of Charles III of Bourbon. The royal palace was built at the beginning of the 17th Century by the architect Domenico Fontana and has been remodelled several times. The façade retains more or less its original appearance. Since the late 19th Century the niches on the façade have contained eight statues of the most famous Kings of Naples. A huge staircase with twin ramps and crowned by a coffered dome leads to the apartments and the sumptuously decorated royal chapel. It was only after 1734 that royalty lived in the apartments. The richly ornamented rooms have retained their numerous work of art, tapestries, paintings, period furniture and fine porcelain.
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Castel dell'Ovo
The Castel dell’Ovo is the oldest standing fortification in Naples. The castle’s name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation in medieval times as a great sorcerer and predictor of the future. As early as the twelfth century there were pre-norman fortifications erected on the remains of part of the villa of the Roman general Lucio Vicinio Lucullo, later transformed into a castle by Frederick II and expanded in the Angevin period, when the fortress took the name "Egg Castle"
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The Sanctuary of Loreto Holy House
Loreto, a small town of Ancona Province, is known all over the world for its Sanctuary that makes it one of the most important places of pilgrimage and pray for the Catholics, together with Medjugorje and Lourdes. The believers go to Loreto to give prays of devotion to the ruins of the Holy House where Jesus lived in Nazareth.
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Pompeii
Pompeii was probably founded by the Oscans around the 8th century BC. This ancient Italic people settled on the southern slopes of Mount Vesuvius along the banks of the Sarno River, which was navigable at the time. Pompeii became an important commercial center early on, catching the interest of the invading Greeks and Etruscans. The Etruscans were conquered on the waters off Cuma, and the city came under domination by the Samnites in the 5th century BC
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Cathedral of Ravello
Built in the 11th century with support from the Rufolo family, the Duomo is a combination of Baroque and Romanesque styles. Dedicated to St. Pantaleone, the church has undergone extensive modifications and restorations over the past 900 years. The Duomo’s shining white façade dates back to the last major restoration in 1931. The Duomo’s bell tower, which dates back to the 13th century, shows Moorish and Byzantine influence. Today, the Duomo is primarily remembered for five attractions: The first is the bronze door, which was temporarily removed for restoration in 2010. Constructed in 1179 by Barisano da Trani, the door is of special interest because fewer than two dozen bronze church doors are still extant in Italy, three of them by Trani. The second item of special note is the pulpit, which is supported by six spiraled columns sitting atop marble lions. Across from the pulpit, to the left, is the Ambo of the Epistles that boasts two wonderful mosaics of Jonah and the Whale. The fourth area of special interest is the Chapel of St. Pantaleone the Healer, a 3rd century physician who was beheaded, on orders of the Emperor Diocletian, after he converted to Christianity. The Chapel has a small ampoule of the saint’s blood, which is said to liquefy every year on July 27th, the anniversary of his martyrdom. The chapel also has a silver bust of the town’s venerated saint. The final attraction is the cathedral's museum, which is accessible through a side entrance on the Via Richard Wagner.
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Villa Rufolo
Built by a wealthy merchant family in the 13th century, the villa has a rich and storied past. Boccaccio, one of the earliest authors of the Italian renaissance, wrote a story about the villa and its owner in his Decameron, which was published in 1353. In its prime, it was one of the largest and most expensive villas on the Amalfi Coast, and legends grew about hidden treasure on its premises. In the 14th century, the Rufolo family hosted banquets for King Robert II of Naples and other Norman royalty. The gardens and grounds of the Villa Rufolo are open year around and attract visitors from all over the world. Juxtaposed against the sea, the sky, umbrella pines, and the Church of the Annunziata below, the gardens, with their profusion of flowers, have a magical quality to them.
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Villa Cimbrone
Sitting high atop a promontory that offers stunning views of the Mediterranean and the dramatic coastline below, the Villa Cimbrone is the crown laurel of Ravello. Its origins date back to the 11th century, but the villa and the gardens were extensively renovated by a British nobleman, Lord Grimthorpe, in the early 20th century. With its expansive gardens and dramatic views, the villa is a popular place for weddings, honeymoons, and receptions. The villa is a private 5-star hotel (Hotel Villa Cimbrone), but the gardens are open to the public and it ranks, perhaps, as the most memorable sight on the Amalfi Coast. A century ago, shortly after it was renovated by Grimthorpe, the Villa Cimbrone became a popular retreat for London’s famed Bloomsbury Group, a circle of early 20th century intellectuals that featured Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey. Other noted guests, included Winston Churchill, author E.M Forster, and famed economist Maynard Keynes. D.H. Lawrence, the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, literally left his mark on the villa’s garden, when he and a friend decided to give the Statue of Eve a fresh, and unauthorized, coat of paint.
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Amalfi Cathedral
Amalfi Cathedral is a 9th-century Roman Catholic structure in the Piazza del Duomo, Amalfi, Italy. It is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew. Predominantly of Arab-Norman Romanesque architectural style, it has been remodelled several times, adding Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic, and Baroque elements. The cathedral includes the adjoining 9th-century Basilica of the Crucifix. Leading from the basilica are steps into the Crypt of St. Andrew. A wooden 13th-century Crucifix hangs in the liturgical area. Another crucifix, made of mother-of-pearl, was brought from the Holy Land and is located to the right of the back door. The High Altar in the central nave is formed from the sarcophagus of the Archbishop Pietro Capuano (died in 1214). Above the altar is a painting by Andrea dell'Asta of The Martyrdom of St. Andrew. The front facade was rebuilt in 1891 after the original one collapsed. It is of striped marble and stone with open arches that have lace detailing not commonly found in Italian sacred architecture while the tiled cupola is quite common amongst churches of the area. The tympanum's mosaics portray “The triumph of Christ” in a work created by Domenico Morelli and whose original designs are retained in the Town Hall.
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Castello Arechi
This castle, located on the Bonadies Mountain, was built in the VII century on behalf of the Lombard Prince Arechi II who moved the capital of the Dukedom from Benevento to Salerno. To this day, the castle still dominates and guards over the city.
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Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens
This enormous palace is one of Florence's largest architectural monuments. The original palazzo was built for the Pitti family in 1457, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and built by his pupil Luca Fancelli. The original construction consisted of only the middle cube of the present building. In 1549, the property was sold to the Medicis and became the primary residence of the grand ducal family. The palace was then enlarged and altered; from 1560, Bartolomeo Ammannati designed and added the grandiose courtyard and two lateral wings. Today, the Pitti Palace houses some of the most important museums in Florence: on the first floor is the Palatine Gallery, containing a broad collection 16th and 17th century paintings (including works by Raphael), and the Royal Apartments, containing furnishings from a remodeling done in the 19th century. On the ground floor and mezzanine is the Treasury of the Grand Dukes (formerly known as the the Silver Museum or Museo degli Argenti) displaying a vast collection of Medici household treasures, from table silverware to precious stone vases, rock crystals and precious jewelry. The Gallery of Modern Art is on the top floor, holding a collection of mostly Tuscan 19th and 20th century paintings.
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The Uffizi Gallery
Like a very precious treasure chest, the Uffizi Gallery will grant itself to visitors just a little bit at a time: from the initial uncertainty on where to get tickets, getting through lines to get inside and at the metal detector, then taking two flights of Renaissance-era stairs before you arrive at the actual entrance to the museum.
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Ponte Vecchio
Open all of the time, along the pedestrian zone south of Piazza della Repubblica towards Palazzo Pitti Built very close to the Roman crossing, the Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks. It is also possible to admire the bridge from underneath in theater presentations, the occasional concert and boat rides. After the disaster in 2016, there is talk of turning the work road constructed during the rebuilding of the river walls int a park area, where it will be possible to stroll the river banks and get a close-up view of the bridge.
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