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Eurfirst Trip to the Vatican

Revised July 8, 2008

Though it is the smallest nation in the world, the Vatican is one of the most fascinating places I have visited. As the center of the Catholic Church, it is steeped in religious symbolism and holds some of the greatest examples of ancient art on the planet. At a minimum, plan to spend one day at the Vatican.

When you select the clothes you are going to wear for the day, remember that you are going to the one of the most sacred places of the Roman Catholic Church. If you don't plan to go to St. Peter's Basillica or to an audience with the pope, you could dress more casually, but if you are attending a place of worship, you want to have your knees and your shoulders covered; that's the dress code for both genders. No shorts, no short skirts, no bare backs or shoulders.

For most tourists, the main draw is St. Peters Basillica. Inside the great church, you'll find important pieces of religious art. When you walk into the basillica, you'll see the dramatic sculpture, the Pieta by Michelangelo, encased in glass to the right of the entrance. That is just the beginning of a walk through overwhelming art and papal resting places beneath the dramatic lines of the basillica's roof. Under the ceremonial space, you'll find the tombs of many more popes, including the first, St. Peter, who the church honors.

Centuries-old tapestry lining a Vatican corridor

One of the ancient treasures housed in the Vatican Museum