Rome Family Vacation: Day 4 – Vatican City

Our fourth day in Rome was spent in Vatican City. Our plan was to go to the Vatican Museum (and see the Sistine Chapel) and then check out St. Peter’s Basilica and climb the dome.

To read about our previous days, visit my posts on Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 in Rome.

The museum had a super cute children’s map that gave kids things to look for as they walked through the museum.

Vatican City is the smallest state in the world and is ruled by the Pope.

Courtyard inside the museum

We bought our tickets online here before coming on our trip. I highly recommend this! We left our apartment bright and early and there was already a very long line outside the museum. Luckily, since we had already purchased our tickets, we got to bypass the entire line and enter in a side entrance with no wait.

Hallway full of Roman statues

We brought our double stroller with us and used the handicap entrances to go straight back to the Sistine Chapel. No photos were allowed, so I don’t have any to post, but it was simply amazing to see in person! We had our free Rick Steves audio tour again and listened as he explained the different pictures.

A beautifully decorated ceiling above as as we made our way to the Sistine Chapel

There is a whole lot to see in the museum! After the Sistine Chapel, we walked back through the handicap entrance to where we started. We wanted to see the Raphael paintings as well, but had a little trouble accessing them with our stroller. We ended up having to carry our stroller several times up and down stairs, which was a huge hassle. If you want to see a good amount of the museum, I would recommend bringing a carrier or maybe a small light stroller instead.

Afterwards, we went for a walk outside for a bit so the girls could nap in the stroller and then headed back to climb the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Swiss Guard

St. Peter’s Basilica was designed in part by Michelangelo and is one of the largest churches in the world.

Luckily they had a place to check in our stroller so we did that and then proceeded to make our way to the top of the dome.

The dome has a total of 551 stairs. For a few euros, you can pay to take an elevator that will skip the first 200 stairs – with a toddler and a baby, that’s exactly what we did!

The view coming out of the elevator

We each held a kid as we climbed to the top of the dome. At times the stairway got very narrow and even slanted. It was very difficult at times, but once we got to the top, it was totally worth it.

The dome was fashioned after the Pantheon

About halfway up after the elevator, there was a door that led inside to a balcony inside the dome. It was amazing to see it so up close! The mosaics were spectacular. Both the girls loved looking out at everything.

We climbed the rest of the stairs and were greeted with quite the view.

It was amazing seeing Rome from the top of the dome! We all loved it, especially Adeline. She kept standing and pointing at all the sights below.

We hung out up there for awhile and then made the trek back down all the stairs (and elevator) until we came inside the church itself.

It was really interesting seeing the dome up close first and then seeing it second from the ground. It really is spectacular.

The inside of the Basilica is massive, but was designed in a way to feel like a more intimate space. When looking at the different sculptures, they appear small. Until you take a closer look and realize some of them are over six feet tall!

There are many things to see in the Basilica, some main sights include:

  • Michelangelo’s Pieta (sculpture of Mary and Jesus)
  • St. Peter’s tomb underneath the center canopy
  • The circle near the front dear where Charlemagne was crowned King.
  • The Holy Door, which is only open on Jubilee years
Michelangelo’s Pieta
The normal entrance
The Holy Door – Different groups will actually do a pilgrimage to touch the door. Normally closed, they were open for the Jubilee year. Since we entered after climbing the dome, we actually used a different entrance.

We really enjoyed our day in Vatican City. The museum was a bit stressful trying to figure out how to get around with a stroller, but I did really enjoy seeing the Sistine Chapel and learning more about it.

The dome was amazing and made up for all the earlier stress! We loved the view and had a great experience all around.

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