Home > Colosseum at Night: A Magical Experience in Rome
Colosseum at Night

Colosseum at Night: A Magical Experience in Rome

Steeped in history and an iconic symbol of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum stands as an embodiment of architectural splendor and power. While a daytime visit to the Colosseum is impressive, experiencing this monumental structure under the night sky’s tranquility is a magical, unforgettable experience. Opting for an nighttime underground Colosseum tour allows you to explore a different side of the arena, while avoiding the daytime crowds – so let’s take a closer look at why this tour is a must for any Rome-obsessed history enthusiast.

What is the Colosseum?

The Colosseum, or the Flavian Amphitheater, is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built. Constructed under the Flavian emperors during the first century AD, it’s a testament to the architectural prowess and grandeur of the Roman Empire. With a capacity to seat 50,000 spectators, it served as the venue for gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, and dramas based on classical mythology.

Why Tour the Colosseum?

So, why tour the famous amphitheater? It’s simple: visiting the Colosseum is akin to stepping back in time. As you walk through the structure, you’re treading the same ground where Romans once cheered on gladiators and witnessed epic performances. 


Aside from being a touristic experience, exploring the Colosseum is an immersive history lesson, allowing you to understand Rome’s past, its emperors, and the societal norms of that era. It’s an iconic symbol of Rome that offers an unparalleled look into the grandeur of the ancient world, and should be a must-visit on your travel bucket list.

Why a Colosseum Night Tour is a Must-Do

A Colosseum tour in itself is already a wonderful way to explore Rome’s history, but experiencing the Colosseum at night is an even more immersive experience for several reasons:


Fewer crowds

First, the tourist crowds are significantly fewer at night, allowing you to explore at a leisurely pace and enjoy your tour in a more intimate setting. The atmosphere is also entirely different; the shadows and strategic lighting bring out the structure’s intricate details and highlight the remnants of its dramatic past. As you stand in the quiet, under the Roman night sky, you can almost hear the echoes of the past.

VIP Access

Secondly, a night tour provides the opportunity to see parts of the Colosseum that are usually off-limits during the day. These include the underground chambers where gladiators prepared for combat, and wild animals were kept before the games. A true VIP experience, a nighttime offers an intriguing glimpse into the backstage workings of the grand events that were staged here.

How to Tour the Colosseum at Night

It’s important to note that experiencing the Colosseum at night requires joining a guided tour. Public access is not available after dark, but several tour operators – including us – offer evening tours, and these often include access to the underground chambers, the arena floor, and sometimes even the third tier for a panoramic view of the illuminated monument and the city beyond.


Our ‘Colosseum Under the Moon’ tour, for instance, is a popular choice: led by a professional guide, this tour offers an insightful narrative of both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, with tales of the gladiators and the many spectacles held here offered up by your own personal tour guide. The well-lit, serene ambiance coupled with the fascinating historical facts make this a unique, must-have experience for anyone visiting Rome.


How can I book a night tour of the Colosseum?

Night tours of the Colosseum can be booked online through various tour operators. It’s best to book in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, as these tours are in high demand.

What should I wear/bring for the tour?

As the tour involves a fair amount of walking, comfortable shoes are recommended. In the cooler months, it’s advisable to dress warmly as it can get chilly at night. A small flashlight could be useful, though not necessary as the monument is well-lit.

Can children join the night tour?

Yes, children can join the night tour, and a night tour offers a fantastic educational experience for them. However, due to the late hours and the duration of the tour, it might not be suitable for very young children.


Ultimately, by opting for a night tour of the Colosseum, you’re choosing an unforgettable experience that blends history, architecture, and a unique experience that you’ll surely talk about for years to come. It’s not just an opportunity to see Rome’s iconic monument in a new light – literally – but an opportunity to connect more deeply with the past. So, when you next find yourself in the Eternal City, don’t miss the chance to explore the Colosseum under the stars; it’s a memory you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

Vatical Rail Station

10 Interesting Facts about Vatican Railway Station

While a visit to the Vatican is a must for tourists in Rome, did you know that there’s more to explore in Vatican City than just the Vatican Museums and the famous Basilica? If you want to dig a little deeper into the fascinating corners of this tiny independent city-state, you might be surprised to find one of the most obscure and intriguing transport hubs in the world: The Vatican Railway Station.


Whether you’re planning to opt for the best skip the line Vatican tour or just a simple visit to the Vatican, let’s take a look at some interesting facts about the Vatican Railway Station, so you can make the most of your Rome experience. Let’s dive in!

The World’s Smallest National Railway System

First up – did you know that this railway station holds the title of the smallest national railway system in the world? The station’s total length is just about 300 meters, making it the smallest railway in the world.

Construction Was Approved by Pope Pius XI

The Vatican Railway Station was a direct result of the Lateran Treaty signed by Pope Pius XI and the Italian government in 1929. The treaty recognized Vatican City as an independent state, and as part of the agreement, the Pope requested the construction of a railway station to facilitate the movement of people and goods, making it a symbol of sovereignty and independence.

The Station Was Designed by Architect Giuseppe Momo

The Vatican Railway Station, like many buildings in Vatican City, is a testament to grand design and architectural prowess. It was designed by Giuseppe Momo, a renowned Italian architect also responsible for the iconic spiral staircase in the Vatican Museums. The station’s design has a touch of Renaissance elegance, incorporating long, straight platforms and a facade adorned with intricate decorations.

A Witness to World War II

The Vatican Railway Station also holds a poignant mark of history from the tumultuous times of World War II, having been the only place within the Vatican that suffered damage during the conflict. Although the damage has now been fully repaired, a part of the destruction has been deliberately preserved on one corner of the station building. This maintained piece of war-inflicted damage serves as a somber reminder of the station’s – and the world’s – endurance through challenging times.

The Station Has Two Tracks But Only One Is Operational

Though the station was designed with two platforms, it has only one operational track. The design of two platforms allows for easy loading and unloading of goods from both sides of the train, however, the single track emphasizes its purpose as a quiet and private transport hub rather than a bustling metropolitan station.

Limited Use Since Inception

Since its establishment in 1934, the Vatican Railway Station has seen very limited use. For the first several decades, it was used primarily to import goods, especially coal for heating. It was only in 2015 that it was first opened to the public as a tourist site; prior to this, only a handful of popes had utilized the railway for traveling purposes.

The First Papal Train Ride Took Place in 1942

Though the Vatican Railway Station was constructed in 1934, the first papal train ride didn’t occur until 1942, when Pope John XXIII, embarked on a historic pilgrimage to Loreto and Assisi.

Pope Francis: The Third Pope to Use the Train

Pope Francis became only the third Pope in history to use the Vatican Railway. In 2013, he took a short journey on a train from Vatican City to the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, Italy. This trip was part of the Pope’s wider efforts to promote public transportation and environmental sustainability.

Opened to the Public in 2015

Despite being operational for over 80 years, it wasn’t until 2015 that the Vatican Railway Station was opened to the public. The Musei Vaticani launched a special tour called “Vatican by Train,” allowing visitors to embark on a journey from the Vatican City to the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo. This marked a significant turning point in the station’s history.

It’s A Unique Way to Experience Vatican City

Finally, visiting the Vatican Railway Station offers a unique way to experience Vatican City. After all, it’s not every day you get the chance to step inside the smallest national railway system in the world! A tour that includes the railway station offers a unique perspective on the city-state, away from the more crowded attractions, and offers a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into Vatican City’s history, architectural genius, and elegance.

Vatican Radio Station

Visiting Vatican Radio Station

A trip to the Vatican is a must-have for any tourist in Italy, but a comprehensive visit goes well beyond just visiting the popular spots. While a trip to the Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica is mandatory for any serious sightseer, there are plenty of discreet and little-known locations within the Vatican that are also ready to be explored. But can you visit the Vatican Radio Station? Let’s take a look. 

What is the Vatican Radio?

Inaugurated on 12th February 1931 by Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radio, Vatican Radio is the official broadcasting service of the Vatican. Conceived under the pontificate of Pius XI, it was established as a means to maintain direct contact with the Catholic world, spread the Pope’s teachings, and offer news about the Church.


The Vatican Radio also holds a unique position in the broadcasting world, transmitting in a plethora of languages, reaching millions of listeners across the globe. It broadcasts various types of programs, including news bulletins, religious services, in-depth programs, and music. Beyond just a radio station, it’s a testament to the Catholic Church’s commitment to harnessing technology for evangelization and dialogue.

Is the Vatican Radio still active?

Yes, Vatican Radio is still active and continues to fulfill its mission of broadcasting the Pope’s message to every corner of the world. Despite the emergence of new media, Vatican Radio has successfully adapted to the changing landscape, expanding its operations to include digital broadcasting and even podcasting. 


Today, it is part of the Dicastery for Communication, an institution of the Roman Curia responsible for all communication offices of the Holy See and the Vatican City State, including the Vatican Television Center, L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Vatican News website, Vatican Press, and Photographic Service.

Can I Tour the Vatican Radio Station?

Absolutely! Touring the Vatican Radio Station is an extraordinary opportunity to step inside a crucial part of Vatican history and contemporary operations. While not as well-known as the Sistine Chapel or St. Peter’s Basilica, a visit to the radio station offers a fascinating glimpse into the Vatican’s global communications network. You’ll witness first-hand the intricate operations involved in transmitting multilingual broadcasts worldwide, making it a thrilling excursion for anyone interested in history, technology, or the inner workings of the Vatican.

Why a Private Vatican Tour is Best

While considering a Vatican Radio Station tour, a private tour in Vatican with early entrance provides an immersive experience that takes you well beyond the typical tourist route. With a myriad of exclusive spots to visit, each offering unique glimpses into the Vatican’s rich history and culture, the benefits of a private tour are manifold:

Exclusive Access

With a private tour, you gain access to hidden gems, like the Vatican Gardens, a lush green oasis in the heart of Vatican City, and the Vatican Observatory, one of the oldest astronomical institutes in the world. Plus, there’s the unparalleled privilege of early entrance to renowned sites, allowing you to admire iconic artworks and architectural marvels like the Sistine Chapel or the Raphael Rooms, unhindered by the day’s usual tourist crowd.

Expert Tour Guide

Finally, an experienced guide is a real game-changer. Their in-depth knowledge brings to life the layers of history, art, and spirituality contained within the Vatican walls. These guides offer valuable insights into the lesser-known corners of the Vatican, allowing you to fully appreciate the significance of each site you visit. Moreover, the personalized nature of a private tour lets you explore at your own pace and tailor the experience to your specific interests.

The Bottom Line

A visit to the Vatican offers an unrivaled deep dive into history, religion, and art – but don’t just stick to the classic tourist spots! While some elements of the Vatican – such as the Vatican Library – remain more elusive to the public eye, there’s an abundance of exclusive experiences waiting to be discovered. 


Opting for a private tour in the Vatican provides unparalleled access, expert insights, and a personalized journey through this wondrous city-state. It’s not merely about sightseeing, but about immersing yourself in the Vatican’s rich tapestry, connecting with the narratives that have shaped it and continue to unfold within its walls.


What other sites can I visit on a private Vatican tour?

Besides the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, a private tour can include the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican Observatory, the Apostolic Palace, and many other exclusive locations within Vatican City.

If I can’t tour the Vatican Radio, how can I learn more about it?

You can visit the official Vatican News website to access information and listen to broadcasts from Vatican Radio. This provides an understanding of the radio’s current operations and its important role in Vatican communications. If you’re on a private tour, you can also ask your expert tour guide!

What benefits do I get from a private tour with early entrance?

Early entrance allows you to explore popular sites before they open to the general public. This means less crowd and more freedom to appreciate the art and architecture. Coupled with the insights of a private guide, it makes for a truly immersive Vatican experience.

Collection of Asian Art

The Vatican Museums: Collection of Asian Art

A trip to the beautiful Italian capital of Rome is incomplete without venturing into the Vatican; the global home of the Catholic Church, the Vatican offers a unique insight into the vast history and cultural impact of Catholicism, as well as a closer insight into Italy’s overall contribution to culture, art, and even science.  


But what you may not know is that the Vatican Museums also house some of the world’s greatest collections of Asian Art. Let’s take a closer look. 

What are The Vatican Museums?

The Vatican Museums, housed within the walls of Vatican City, are a series of art museums that showcase an extensive collection of works amassed by the Roman Catholic Church over centuries. As one of the oldest and most significant collections in the world, the Vatican Museums boast a grand tapestry of cultural and artistic masterpieces, offering visitors a chance to journey through a splendid assortment of European art, antiquities, and ethnographic collections.


Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the Vatican Museums are home to renowned artworks like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, Raphael’s Rooms, and the ‘Laocoön and His Sons’ statue, among many others. But beyond the European narrative, the Museums also offer an immersive journey into other parts of the world through specialized collections, such as the Collection of Asian Art.

Anima Mundi: Asian Art in the Vatican Museums

While the Vatican is primarily known for its wide and vast collection of Italian art – with famous pieces including The School of Athens by Raphael, the Laocoön and His Sons sculpture, the Apollo Belvedere statue, The Transfiguration by Raphael, and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, the Vatican also houses art from cultures and civilisations across the world, including Asian art.


These collections can be found in a section of the Vatican known as Anima Mundi, which translates to “soul of the world” in Latin. Also referred to as the Ethnological Museum, Pope Francis reopened this collection in 2019, and this museum is dedicated to showcasing non-European art and artifacts that have been collected by the Vatican over centuries.


While there are already plenty of foreign artifacts and paintings to enjoy within the current Anima Mundi museum, there may even be more coming in the close future. In 2017, China and the Vatican agreed to swap 40 art pieces in order to enrich each country’s respective art collections, so tourists in each country can enjoy a more diverse range of art and culture to enjoy. 

Why a Private Tour is a Must

As impressive as the Vatican Museums’ Asian Art Collection is, navigating this artistic labyrinth can be daunting without a guide. Opting for a small group Vatican tour is an ideal way to experience this expansive collection to the fullest, here’s why:

Expert Guides

A private tour is not merely about observing the works of art; it’s about understanding the cultural, historical, and religious contexts that birthed these masterpieces. Private tour guides are well-versed in the subtleties of these narratives, their expertise bringing to life the hidden histories and meanings behind each artifact.

Personalized Tour

On a small group Vatican tour, you’ll enjoy the benefits of personalized attention and the freedom to explore at your own pace, delving into the aspects of the collection that intrigue you the most. Furthermore, private tours typically offer priority access, a significant advantage considering the popularity of the Vatican Museums, allowing you to bypass long queues and have more time to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring artistic expressions of both Asia and Italy.

Intimate Experience

The exclusive nature of a private tour also allows for a more intimate, contemplative experience. Rather than feeling rushed or crowded, you have the space to truly appreciate and connect with the art, engrossed in the stories of ancient dynasties, spiritual traditions, and the incredible breadth of human creativity.

The Bottom Line

The Vatican Museums, with their vast array of artistic treasures, serve as a testimony to the global tapestry of human culture, and the Asian Art Collection is a vibrant thread in this weave. Offering an unparalleled journey into the depths of Asian history, religion, and artistic expression, it is an experience not to be missed.


A small group Vatican tour is the key to unlocking the full richness of this collection, enhancing the journey with expert insights, intimate settings, and a pace tailored to your curiosity. So, when planning your next visit to Vatican City, make sure to book your private tour to unravel the fascinating mysteries of Asian Art. The experience promises to be as enlightening as it is mesmerizing, a beautiful narrative of humanity written in the language of art.

Vatican City

Vatican Souvenirs: Must-Have Mementos from Your Visit

Touring the Vatican City is a cherished experience that you’ll want to remember for years to come, and while photos and memories will serve as wonderful reminders, picking up unique Vatican souvenirs can truly encapsulate the essence of your visit. Whether you’re seeking religious artifacts or simple tokens representing the city’s rich history and culture, this guide will help you navigate the myriad of options available. Let’s take a look at the most popular Vatican souvenirs, and give you some ideas on how to find the perfect keepsakes from your visit. Let’s get started!


Where to find the Best Vatican Gifts

Begin your Vatican souvenir hunting in the Vatican Museums and the St. Peter’s Basilica gift shop; these places offer an assortment of religious items like rosaries, medals, and crucifixes, as well as art books, prints, and postcards inspired by the Vatican’s extraordinary art collections.

Authentic Murano glass jewelry from Venice, available in the city, also serves as a fashionable and treasured memento. Also, consider investing in a replica of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling artwork or a book on Vatican history, both of which can remind you of the awe-inspiring beauty and the intricate narrative of the city.

Moreover, don’t miss out on the Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office, a haven for collectors. With an assortment of Vatican City stamps and coins issued every year, you could purchase a unique piece of history to take back home.

Finally, consider Vatican-branded items such as t-shirts, caps, or mugs – great gifts for friends and family members back home.


How to get the best price

To ensure you get the best price for your Vatican souvenirs, it’s important to shop around and compare prices before you purchase. Keep in mind that most items, especially in the Vatican Museums’ shops, are fixed-priced, and you’ll be able to pick these up as you explore all tours in Vatican City. However, in smaller stores around the city or at street stalls, bargaining is part of the culture.

While the art of haggling might seem intimidating, remember that polite negotiation is key. Start by suggesting a price that’s 10-20% lower than the asking price. This displays your interest in the item and starts the negotiation process.


Pro-tip: Shopping in the off-season (November through February, except for Christmas) might provide you with better prices, as sellers are more inclined to negotiate during less busy periods.


Avoiding scam sellers in Vatican City

While the Vatican City is generally a safe place, it’s not immune to scams, especially those targeted towards tourists. Here’s how you can avoid falling prey to unscrupulous vendors and make the most of your shopping experience:
Check for fakes

Firstly, beware of fake ‘Made in Italy’ products. If you’re purchasing items like Murano glass jewelry or leather goods, ensure their authenticity. Genuine Murano glass items come with a certificate of authenticity, and real Italian leather products often have a label inside stating ‘Vera Pelle’ or ‘Made in Italy.’

Be cautious of street vendors

Secondly, we’d recommend that you be cautious when purchasing religious items from street vendors, especially around St. Peter’s Square. Some vendors may claim their rosaries are ‘blessed’ to justify a higher price, but it’s important to note that according to the Catholic Church, items sold as ‘blessed’ lose their blessing once purchased. Instead, buy your rosaries or religious articles from a reputable store and have them blessed by a priest in the Vatican for free.



Can I mail my Vatican souvenirs from the Vatican City itself?

Yes, the Vatican Post Office, considered one of the best in the world, allows you to mail your souvenirs directly. Not only is it efficient, but your packages will also bear the unique Vatican City postmark.

Is it possible to buy Vatican souvenirs online?

Absolutely! The Vatican’s official website has an online shop where you can purchase a variety of items. It’s an excellent option if you want to avoid carrying heavy items during your travels.

What are the working hours of the Vatican souvenir shops?

The souvenir shops within the Vatican Museums are open Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 6 pm. The St. Peter’s Basilica shop opens at 8 am and closes at 7 pm during summer, with slightly reduced hours during winter.


The bottom line

The unique mementos you bring home from your Vatican visit will serve as tangible reminders of your journey through history, art, and religion – not to mention a beautiful holiday in the Italian capital! By following our guide, you’ll not only secure the best Vatican souvenirs but also ensure a hassle-free, scam-free and overall enjoyable shopping experience – which can be difficult when you’re a tourist.

Colosseum's Roaring Crowds

The Roaring Crowds: The Colosseum’s Spectators and the Ancient Roman Experience

The Colosseum, one of Rome’s most iconic landmarks, stands as a testament to the grandeur and spectacle of ancient Rome. In this article, we will explore the significance of the Colosseum, its various uses, and gain insights into the captivating experience of the ancient Roman spectators. Join us as we delve into the fascinating world of the Colosseum and uncover the stories of its roaring crowds.

What is the Colosseum?

The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an ancient amphitheater located in Rome, Italy. Constructed between 70-80 AD, it stands as a remarkable architectural marvel, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations today in Italy. The Colosseum itself is an elliptical structure made of stone and concrete, boasting an impressive seating capacity of approximately 50,000 spectators.

What was the Colosseum used for?

Gladiator battles

The Colosseum served as a multifunctional venue, hosting a variety of spectacles and events, but primarily, it was used for gladiatorial contests, where skilled fighters engaged in combat to entertain the masses. These gladiatorial games were highly popular and one of the key forms of entertainment during the Roman era.

Animal hunts

Beyond gladiatorial combat, the Colosseum also witnessed other forms of entertainment. Wild animal hunts, known as venationes, took place within its walls, where exotic animals from across the Roman Empire were pitted against each other or against skilled hunters. These displays of power and ferocity were intended to awe and entertain the spectators – although they certainly weren’t for the squeamish!

Understanding the Ancient Roman experience

Attending events at the Colosseum was an integral part of the ancient Roman experience, and various historians, documentarians and authors of today have all tried to encapsulate this experience for modern-day history enthusiasts. 


It’s also important to note that the spectacles in the Colosseum were not merely about entertainment; they also served as a reflection of Roman society, and reinforced the ideals of Roman virtues such as bravery, honor, and resilience. The gladiatorial games, in particular, were seen as a display of strength and courage, reflecting the warrior spirit that the Romans held in high regard.


In addition to the thrilling displays of combat and wild animal hunts, the architecture and design of the Colosseum itself played a significant role in enhancing the overall experience. The advanced engineering allowed for smooth entry and exit of spectators, minimizing congestion, while the tiered seating arrangement ensured good visibility for everyone, enabling a sense of communal engagement with the events unfolding below.

Is a Visit to the Colosseum Worth It?

Absolutely! A visit to the Colosseum is undoubtedly worth it, as it offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the ancient Roman atmosphere and experience the grandeur of this historic amphitheater. Here’s why:

Walking in the footsteps of history

As you step inside the Colosseum, know that you’ll be walking in the same footsteps as ancient Romans did centuries ago; the sheer size, scale and architecture of the amphitheater will leave you in awe, and you’ll be able to envision the vibrant energy that once filled the arena as spectators cheered from the seats.

Sensing the roaring crowds

Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine the sound of thousands of spectators cheering, the anticipation building, and the thunderous applause as gladiators or wild animals entered the arena. The Colosseum’s impressive acoustics allow you to get a sense of the scale and magnitude of the roaring crowds that once filled its walls – impressive!

Exploring the underground hypogeum

The recently opened underground area of the Colosseum offers a unique opportunity to delve into the hidden depths of the amphitheater, and you can explore it yourself with a colosseum underground tour! Descending into the hypogeum, you can imagine the hustle and bustle as gladiators prepared for their battles, and the wild animals that were housed in the intricate network of tunnels and chambers.

Imagining the spectacles

When inside the ancient amphitheater, you can take a moment to visualize the events that unfolded within the Colosseum’s arena; picture the gladiators engaging in intense combat, the crowds on the edge of their seats, and the spectacle of wild animal hunts. The vivid imagination combined with the tangible history surrounding you allows you to transport yourself to ancient Rome.

Absorbing the architecture

The Colosseum’s architecture is a testament to the genius of the ancient Romans, and as you explore the different levels and arches, you can admire the precision and engineering prowess that went into creating this monumental structure. The preservation of its outer walls and the remains of the seating arrangement provide a tangible link to the past.

Capturing memorable photos: 

The Colosseum provides numerous photo opportunities that capture the essence of your visit, whether it’s a panoramic view from the upper levels, a close-up shot of the arches, or a picture of yourself standing in the heart of the arena – just remember that selfie sticks aren’t allowed inside, so stick to your usual camera!

Vatican Observatory

The Vatican and Science: The Vatican Observatory and its Contributions

When one thinks of the Vatican, the mind often conjures images of art, history, and spirituality. However, the Vatican has also made significant contributions to the field of science, and helped bridge the gap between those who believe that scientific discovery and religious belief are incompatible.

So, what can the Vatican Observatory teach us about the world, the planets, and the value in scientific curiosity? In the following article, we’re going to take a closer look at the fascinating world of the Vatican Observatory, what its existence tells us about the intersections of faith and science, and how it has played a role in scientific discovery and astronomy over the years and even now. Let’s take a look!


What is the Vatican Observatory?

The Vatican Observatory, also known as the Specola Vaticana, is one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world. Founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII, the observatory is located within the Vatican City, and its primary mission is to conduct scientific research in astronomy and related fields. The Vatican Observatory consists of two main sites: the headquarters in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, and the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) located at the Mount Graham International Observatory in Arizona, USA.

How has the Vatican contributed to scientific discovery?

While some skeptics might consider religion to be the antithesis of scientific discovery, the Vatican’s contributions to the world of science have been significant, particularly in the field of astronomy, and over the years, the Vatican Observatory has played a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of the universe.

First and foremost, the Vatican Observatory has consistently supported scientific research and exploration. Its state-of-the-art telescopes and advanced technology have enabled astronomers to study celestial objects with great precision, and for instance, The VATT, boasts a 1.8-meter telescope equipped with sophisticated instruments, providing astronomers with valuable data on distant galaxies, stellar evolution, and exoplanets.

Additionally, the Vatican Observatory has actively collaborated with renowned scientific institutions and organizations worldwide. Through partnerships and cooperative efforts, scientists at the Vatican Observatory have engaged in groundbreaking research projects and contributed to global scientific advancements. This collaboration has fostered an environment of knowledge exchange and has allowed for the integration of diverse perspectives in scientific exploration.

In addition to this, the Vatican Observatory has been a champion of the dialogue between science and faith. As mentioned above, many followers of religion (as well as science enthusiasts) often draw a stark line between these two concepts; the Vatican Observatory recognizes the compatibility of scientific inquiry and religious belief, and actively promotes the idea that science and faith can mutually enrich one another. By fostering this dialogue, the Vatican Observatory encourages a deeper understanding of the universe and promotes an appreciation for the wonders of creation.

In recent years, the Vatican Observatory has also been involved in educational initiatives, such as workshops, conferences, and public lectures. These efforts aim to share scientific knowledge and engage with the wider public, all the while inspiring curiosity, encouraging scientific literacy, and nurturing a sense of wonder about the natural world.


Can I visit the Vatican Observatory?

Being a research institution, The Vatican Observatory is unfortunately not open to the general public for visits; it primarily focuses on scientific research and therefore does not offer guided tours or public access to its facilities. However, this should not deter you from exploring the many other fascinating attractions within the Vatican City.

When visiting the Vatican, you can partake in a variety of other tours and experiences that provide a glimpse into the rich history, art, and spirituality of this renowned destination. One of the most popular tours is the Vatican Museums tour, which allows visitors to explore the vast collection of art treasures, including masterpieces like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and Raphael’s frescoes in the Raphael Rooms.

Another must-see attraction is St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Christian church in the world. Guided tours of the basilica offer insights into its remarkable architecture, art, and religious significance.

For those interested in the Vatican’s historical and cultural aspects, a visit to the Vatican Gardens is highly recommended. These beautifully landscaped gardens, spanning over 23 hectares, showcase a harmonious blend of nature, art, and architecture. Guided tours of the gardens provide a serene escape from the bustling city and offer a unique perspective on the Vatican’s aesthetics and horticultural heritage.It is important to note that due to the Vatican’s popularity, it is advisable to book tickets and tours in advance to avoid long queues and ensure a smooth visit. And if you’d like a VIP experience, a skip the line tour in the Vatican might just be exactly what you’re looking for.

Vatican Renaissance Architecture

The Vatican and the Renaissance: Influence on Art and Culture

When it comes to iconic landmarks, few places capture the imagination quite like the Vatican. Steeped in history and brimming with artistic treasures, this city-state within Rome has a profound influence on art and culture. In this blog article, we will explore what the Vatican is known for, delve into the essence of the Renaissance, and uncover the significant role the Vatican played in shaping this transformative period in history.

What is the Vatican known for?

The Vatican is renowned as the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s home to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Christian church in the world, and the Vatican Museums, which house an extensive collection of priceless artworks. The Sistine Chapel, with its mesmerizing ceiling painted by Michelangelo, stands as a testament to the Vatican’s artistic heritage. Additionally, the Vatican is the residence of the Pope, who serves as the spiritual leader for over a billion Catholics worldwide.

What was the Renaissance?

The Renaissance was a period of immense cultural, intellectual, and artistic revival that spanned from the 14th to the 17th century in Europe. It marked a transition from the medieval to the modern world, characterized by renewed interest in ancient Greek and Roman knowledge, humanism, and scientific inquiry. The Renaissance witnessed groundbreaking advancements in various fields, including art, literature, architecture, and philosophy. This transformative era produced remarkable geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, whose works continue to captivate audiences to this day.

How did the Vatican influence the Renaissance?

The Vatican played a pivotal role in the development and dissemination of Renaissance art and culture; as the epicenter of the Roman Catholic Church, it attracted wealthy patrons, influential scholars, and talented artists from across Europe, and these individuals flocked to the Vatican, seeking both spiritual enlightenment and the opportunity to contribute to the flourishing artistic and cultural scene:


One of the most notable contributions of the Vatican to the Renaissance was through its patronage of the arts: Popes and cardinals commissioned renowned artists to create magnificent works for the Vatican’s churches, palaces, and chapels, and the likes of Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini were among the many artists who received prestigious commissions. These masterpieces now adorn the Vatican’s walls, ceilings, and altarpieces, and attract millions of tourists to the Italian capital every year – why not see them for yourself with a Vatican private tour for families?


The Vatican’s patronage extended beyond visual arts and included literature, music, and architecture. The papal court attracted influential thinkers and writers, fostering an environment of intellectual exchange and creativity. The Vatican Library, established in the 15th century, amassed a vast collection of manuscripts, including ancient texts, promoting scholarship and encouraging a renewed interest in classical knowledge.


Aside from artistic and philosophical contributions, the Vatican also served as a hub for artistic innovation. The papal court provided a platform for artists to exchange ideas and techniques, resulting in artistic cross-pollination, and this collaborative atmosphere led to the development of new artistic styles and techniques that became hallmarks of the Renaissance.


How did the Vatican promote music during the Renaissance?

The Vatican played a pivotal role in promoting music during the Renaissance. The Sistine Chapel Choir, established by Pope Sixtus IV, became renowned for its performances and encouraged the development of musical compositions. The Vatican also commissioned composers to create music for religious ceremonies and liturgical events.

Can I see Leonardo da Vinci’s works in the Vatican?

Although Leonardo da Vinci’s works are not housed in the Vatican, you can see his iconic masterpiece, The Last Supper, in Milan, Italy. However, the Vatican does have works by other influential Renaissance artists like Raphael and Michelangelo.

Did the Vatican influence Renaissance literature?

Yes! The Vatican had a significant influence on Renaissance literature. The papal court attracted influential thinkers, scholars, and writers who sought patronage and support for their literary works. The Vatican’s support of humanistic studies and its fostering of intellectual exchange contributed to the flourishing of Renaissance literature.

The bottom line

Ultimately, the Vatican’s influence on the Renaissance cannot be overstated. Through its patronage of the arts, promotion of intellectual exchange, and fostering of creative environments, the Vatican played a significant role in shaping this transformative period. To this day, the Vatican’s artistic treasures – such as the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museums – stand as testaments to the enduring impact of this remarkable era on art and culture.

Inner Part of Colosseum

Colosseum Architecture: A Comprehensive Guide

When one thinks of Rome, it is hard not to picture the imposing and historic structure of the Colosseum. This grand amphitheatre, known officially as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is not only a testament to the incredible engineering prowess of the Romans but also a symbol of the city itself, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. The Colosseum’s architecture remains a remarkable feat even today, but what will you actually get to see during a trip to the famous site? Let’s take a look.


What can you expect to see at the Colosseum?

The exterior walls

Upon arrival, the first striking feature of the Colosseum you’ll encounter is the exterior wall. Standing approximately 50 metres high, this elliptical structure was mainly built with travertine, a type of limestone. The exterior wall’s architectural design is an intriguing blend of practicality and aesthetics, and you’ll notice the orderly arrangement of arches, flanked by half-columns and pilasters that not only serve structural functions but also lend a rhythmic pattern to the façade.


The interior arena and seating area

Stepping inside, you’ll be greeted by the vast interior arena, a sprawling space that once held a stage for bloody gladiatorial combats and dramatic spectacles, and as a visitor, the scale of the Colosseum becomes even more impressive from within. The seating area, or ‘cavea’, was meticulously designed, divided into three horizontal sections (‘maeniana’) for different social classes. This smartly engineered arrangement ensured a perfect view for everyone, from senators down to the common folk.


The underground hypogeum

A not-to-be-missed feature of the Colosseum is the hypogeum, an intricate underground network of passages and rooms. Once you descend into this fascinating subterranean labyrinth, you’ll witness where gladiators prepared for combat and where wild animals were caged. The hypogeum was a crucial part of the spectacle, with complex pulley systems designed to lift beasts and scenery to the arena floor. This experience provides a haunting, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the brutal spectacles of the past – but you can usually only access this part of the Colosseum with pre-booked guided Colosseum tours.


Tips for exploring the Colosseum

Plan your visit in advance

Given its popularity, the Colosseum can often be crowded, with long queues for tickets. Planning your visit in advance and purchasing ‘skip-the-line’ tickets online can save you significant waiting time.


Invest in a guided tour

While the Colosseum is impressive to behold, much of its history and significance can be lost without expert guidance. Opting for a guided tour will give you a deeper understanding of the architecture, the history, and the cultural context of the amphitheatre. It will also grant you access to areas of the Colosseum which may otherwise be off-limits to regular visitors, such as the underground hypogeum.


Take your time

Despite the crowds, don’t rush your visit – there’s so much to see, from the intricate design of the exterior wall to the stark reality of the hypogeum, and you don’t want to miss important details or staples of Roman architecture. Allow yourself to pause and appreciate the architectural marvel that is the Colosseum, and let yourself imagine just what it would have been like during the Roman Empire.


Bring essentials

Given Rome’s warm climate, especially in the summer months, remember to carry essentials like a water bottle, sunblock, and a hat. As the Colosseum’s seating area offers little shade, these items will ensure a more comfortable visit, and prevent you from leaving Rome with dreaded sunburn!


Embrace the surroundings

The Colosseum isn’t just about the amphitheatre itself; it’s also about its immediate environment. Nearby, you’ll find the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, both of which are steeped in history and worth exploring. Most tour guide organisations – like us at What A Life Tours – will cover all three sites with a comprehensive ticket, offering an immersive journey into ancient Rome’s grandeur.


Photography opportunities

Being one of the most iconic structures in the world, the Colosseum presents countless opportunities for photography. Try to capture the amphitheatre from different angles and perspectives. The play of light and shadow on the honey-coloured stone during sunrise or sunset can yield particularly beautiful results.


Mindful exploration

Remember, the Colosseum isn’t just a monument – it’s a testament to human history. Respect the site during your visit, ensuring not to litter or cause damage to the structure. The idea is to appreciate and preserve its beauty for future generations, and that begins with everyone doing their part to keep the historic site clean, comfortable, and untouched.



When is the best time to visit the Colosseum?

The Colosseum can be visited all year round, but if you’re looking to avoid large crowds, the best time to visit is during the off-peak season, which is typically from November through to February. However, do note that the weather can be a bit chilly during these months.


Is the Colosseum accessible for visitors with disabilities?

Yes, the Colosseum is accessible for visitors with disabilities. There are lifts available to the first and second tiers, and a tactile model of the Colosseum is available for visually impaired visitors.


How much time should I allocate for a visit to the Colosseum?

On average, a thorough visit to the Colosseum, including the underground and the third ring, can take around 2-3 hours. However, if you plan to also visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, it would be wise to allocate a full day.

Pio Clementino Museum in The Vatican

Masterpieces That You Can’t-Miss at The Pio Clementino Museum in The Vatican

The Pio Clementino Museum, nestled within the Vatican City, is an art lover’s paradise and a testament to the rich historical and cultural legacy of Rome. Founded by Pope Clement XIV in the 18th century, this museum hosts an exquisite collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. So, what can you expect if you plan on visiting? From Nero’s Bathtub to the Muses Room, we’ve curated your ultimate guide to seeing the best of the best during your visit. Let’s take a look!


What is the Pio Clementino Museum?

Situated in the heart of Vatican City, the Pio Clementino Museum is part of the grand complex of Vatican Museums. Named after Pope Clement XIV and his successor, Pope Pius VI, this museum was established to showcase a spectacular array of classical antiquities. In addition to its astounding collection, the museum itself, with its exquisitely decorated halls and courtyards, is a masterpiece of neoclassical and Enlightenment aesthetics.

In short, the Pio Clementino Museum offers a unique opportunity to delve into the artistic sensibilities of ancient civilisations, wrapped in the embrace of papal history. And if you want the best experience, don’t forget to opt for one of our skip-the-line tours in Vatican – you’ll get to tour the historic Vatican with an experienced guide and enjoy the intimacy of a private, smaller group for your tour.


Must-sees at the Pio Clementino Museum

The Octagon Yard

The Apollo Del Belvedere The Octagon Yard, one of the museum’s most significant areas, is home to an array of ancient sculptures, with the Apollo Del Belvedere taking centre stage. This marble sculpture, crafted during the Roman Imperial era, depicts the Greek god Apollo in a moment of triumphant poise. A testament to the mastery of the anonymous sculptor, the intricate detail in the god’s muscular build and the fluid motion of his robes are truly captivating.

Sarcophagus Of Saint Helen

A visit to the Sala a Croce Greca will present you with the magnificent Sarcophagus of Saint Helena. This impressive red porphyry sarcophagus is believed to have been the final resting place of Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. The elaborately carved battle scenes on its sides, showcasing the Romans’ victories over the Germans, are an enduring testament to the artist’s skill and the era’s narrative artistry.


The Sculptures Gallery: The Mattei Amazon

Housed in the elegant gallery of the Sala delle Muse, the Mattei Amazon is a sight to behold. This marble statue is a Roman copy of a Greek original and represents an Amazon warrior woman, a powerful figure in Greek mythology. The fine detail, from her complex drapery to the lifelike depiction of her physical strength, is a tribute to the sculptural artistry of the ancient world.


Laocoön And His Sons

Arguably one of the most famous works of antiquity, the statue of Laocoön and His Sons is a must-see. Located in the Laocoön Room, this masterpiece narrates a tragic scene from Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’. Laocoön, a Trojan priest, and his sons are depicted in their final moments of struggle against sea serpents. The palpable agony in Laocoön’s face, the dynamic twists of the serpents, and the stark rawness of human suffering make this sculpture an unforgettable viewing experience.


Nero’s bathtub

One of the more unexpected masterpieces of the Pio Clementino Museum is Nero’s Bathtub. This enormous basin, carved from a single piece of red porphyry, hails from the reign of the infamous Roman Emperor Nero. Despite its name, the basin was likely used as a pool rather than a bathtub. Its sheer size and the opulent material from which it’s crafted are reflective of Nero’s extravagant lifestyle. The bathtub is housed in the Sala Rotonda, a room designed in the style of the Pantheon, adding an extra layer of grandeur to the viewing experience.


The Muses Room: The Belvedere Torso

In the Sala delle Muse, dedicated to the nine Muses of Greek mythology, stands the Belvedere Torso. This intriguing marble sculpture depicts a male figure, truncated at the waist and missing its limbs. While its original identity is unknown, some theories suggest it may represent Hercules or Ajax. Despite its fragmented form, the power and vitality of the figure are unmistakable, and the anatomy and musculature are rendered with remarkable realism. It’s believed that this work profoundly influenced Michelangelo during his creation of the Sistine Chapel, making it an essential piece in the evolution of Western art.