Visiting the Vatican - What to See and Do

The Vatican Gardens in Rome

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Vatican gardens

The Vatican Gardens  are an oasis in the middle of crowds of visitors who frequent places like the Basilica and the Vatican Museums. The green space within the Vatican walls seduces nature lovers in particular and it is recommended for those who want to dig deeply into the Vatican history.

Origin

Legends aside, the gardens date from the medieval times, . We need to go back to 1279, when Pope Nicolas III decided to wall off the area building inner walls, leaving a space occupied by vineyards and meadows which he decided to turn into his very own garden.

In the XVI century , an important refurbishing and landscaping project by Pope Julius II, inspired by the early Renaissance Bramante’s hand, was performed.

What to see

The Vatican Gardens are a natural, architectural and artistic space  of great beauty and spirituality, in an area of 32 hectares, which occupies most of the Vatican Hill.

You will see a complex landscape full of forests, medieval monuments, sculptures, floral extensions
The visit is  always guided,  the entrance without a guide is not authorised.  The tour is led by an official accredited guide and is delivered in the chosen language, including Spanish, using headphones. It lasts 2 hours  and it is not suitable for people on wheelchairs.

You will visit the most picturesque areas: Giardino Quadrato,Casina Pio IV, Trevi dell’Aquilone, Grotta di Lourdes, the monument to the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican Radio building … and will enjoy views of the Basilica itself that you have never seen.

The tour ends in the Vatican Museums themselves.

Vatican Gardens Tours

The Visit

The tour can be booked at visiteguidatesingoli.musei@scv.va. It has a cost from 35 euros.

From our website, you can have access to many organized tours which include a visit to the Gardens.

Tips

– This is a tour that requires a minimum level of fitness. The tour lasts two hours and the terrain is quite uneven.

– The best time of year to see the gardens is during spring  in a cool sunny day.

– This tour gives you an excellent opportunity to find out about the actual daily life of the Vatican State  as you see administration, maintenance and security staff … during their daily routine. Not forgetting the family of cats living there.

– This will be greatly enjoyed by botany lovers. There are Mediterranean pines, cedars of Lebanon and an olive tree, a gift from the State of Israel.

– Is it really worth it? We think so. Mainly because of two reasons: the ticket includes access to the Vatican Museums and to the Sistine Chapel and the view from St Peter’s Dome is fantastic.

Curiosities of the Vatican Gardens

The gardens of the Vatican are a place filled with stories and curiosities. The paths, the fountains, the grottos, the sculptures… have been witnesses to the history and the faith of its inhabitants.

The first was Pope Nicholas III, the official creator of the gardens in 1279 who planted a vegetable garden, the first grass lawns and a garden. Little remains today of that first project, not in vain the gardens have grown over the centuries to reach 23 hectares, forming what we know officially as “The Gardens of the Vatican City.”

The styles
Three styles of landscaping coexist in the Gardens: English, French and Italian. They spread along the western Edge of the Vatican hill and also house a heliport, a train station and a radio station.

Place of reflection
They’re conceived as the Pope’s place of meditation, so public access is very limited. Over the centuries, the Popes have adapted the complex to their tastes. For example, at the end of the 16th century, the gardens where turned into an open-air museum with magnificent sculptures and fountains, many of them deeply symbolic.

For example, the beautiful Torre San Giovanni (St. John’s Tower), which dominates the gardens due to its height, is an emblematic spot which is even used for the Pope’s meetings with important politicians.

A garden dedicated to Mary
Across the museums there are up to 14 images of the Virgin Mary which have been brought here from different places across the world.

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