Wandering through the Vatican City

The Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy

I have this running debate with Mr Wandering Kiwi about how many countries I’ve been to – it’s 47 ok?! He has not been to 47 countries and even though it’s not a competition … One of the points of contention is Vatican City. By any dictionary (or wikipedia) definition a sovereign city state. So what if it’s only 44 hectares and has a population of around 800? It’s just the smallest independent state in the world and it’s not Italy. Which is why I include it in my list of countries visited. Because these things are important.

The problem comes down to how you define “countries visited”. In his book you must stay the night, or ideally at least 48 hours in a country before you can be said to have been there. It’s difficult to see how either of those requirements are ever going to be met for Vatican City.

The place of Vatican City in the history of western Europe and perhaps the world is unprecedented. There are some who would say that the wealth and influence of the Roman Catholic church is still significant. The Vatican is home to some of the world’s biggest, most famous and impacting art, including the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo and the School of Athens by Raphael. You can also expect long queues to get in to see the Vatican museums and pay a hefty Euro 15 to pass through the gates. It is busy but almost everyone is in the Sistine Chapel so the rest of the Vatican Museums are a pretty relaxed place.

And what do you see when you get inside?

The Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy

Marble busts of a lot of grumpy looking Romans:

The Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy

Quirky, and similarly lifelike sculpture. Look out for little details everywhere:

The Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy

And stupendously decorated ceilings. Not just the Sistine Chapel, they’re everywhere:

The Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy

I think my favourite part of the Vatican Museums is the map room. I love maps; the website is my attempt to “make the pages of the atlas real” after all. There are fascinating representations of Europe as it once was, particularly what is now Italy. We found a wonderful depiction of Orvieto, the historic hilltown in Umbria where we were married.

By Natasha von Geldern

What do you think? Can I include Vatican City in my list of countries visited?

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21 Replies to “Wandering through the Vatican City”

    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      Andorra definitely a country – and easier to stay the night! Thanks for your moral support…

      Reply
      • Siddie Nam

        My pleasure! It’s not pure altruism. This clarification has meant that I’ve upped my score by two without even leaving my chair. This travel blog is amazing — what other blog can increase the amount of countries you’ve visited without you even having to apply for a visa?

        Reply
        • Natasha von Geldern Post author

          Any time mate. sazxvbnmkjhgfdssaqwwretyu (from Sofia)
          The Isle of Man and Jersey are also slightly controversial in our house…

          Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      I know a number of people who were put off by the queues if they have limited time in Rome, and in fact I’ve just remembered that I gave it a miss the first time I visited Rome! But the line is not so bad and it is worth it – something to go back to Rome for 🙂

      Reply
  1. Sophie

    The Vatican is a country. And sometimes I’ve seen more of a country on a day trip than if I’ve been for 3 – 4 days in meetings, say. But I don’t think just being in an airport should count.

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      Thanks for the confirmation Sophie! And I agree you can pack a lot into a day trip. I don’t count Canada as I’ve only spent the day in the airport (blizzard outside).

      Reply
  2. Steve

    I love Vatican City! So much history and the Sistine Chapel was beyond mind blowing. And you should include it in your list of countries! haha…

    Reply
  3. Cherina

    Anywhere with THAT much good art should be able to declare itself a country 😉 I’m pretty sure it is considered a country, or at least an independent state. I would say you can definitely count it. Love the ceiling shot!

    Reply
  4. T.W. Anderson @ Marginal Boundaries

    While I enjoyed my tour there back in 2009, if only for the artistic part of me that loves history, I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would never want to replicate only because of the price-gouging, the crowds, the heat and the sardines-in-a-can mentality. Being asked to pay €10 for a bottle of water was a bit ridiculous.

    But the historical value is without a doubt worth the time spent, and I would recommend it to any traveler who wants to see some of the greatest works of art ever created.

    Reply
  5. Arianna

    I love the vatican museum, even more then the uffizi or some other places… There is so much to see and so much to discover.
    Nice pictures 🙂

    Reply
  6. Andrew

    Of course it counts. You were there and say a large percentage of the landmass of the country. Such small things must have special rules. I did Monaco in an afternoon and not sure I could even stand it longer.

    My wife is a list ticker as well. We did Liechtenstein last summer and heading to Andorra in just a few weeks. I really like Bologna, so I figure I can convince her because San Marino is nearby.

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      He he, yes I’ve got a few more teeny countries to get to in Europe to satisfy my list ticking fix. Maybe next year 🙂

      Reply

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