It shouldn’t come as any surprise to discover that parts of the Vatican and the City itself are locked down to prevent access from people who are not authorized. In fact you can see this based on where any Swiss Guards might be stationed, such as in the Vatican museum or directly around parts of the Vatican and the garden. That doesn’t mean it is impossible to gain access to these places though, in fact there are special VIP tours that are devoted to certain areas of the holy city that are normally guarded heavily. Here are just a few of them.
The Vatican Gardens
The Vatican Garden is a beautiful and massive garden that many popes have walked the paths of, and holds a variation of modern shrubbery design as well as some of the byzantine and ancient Greek methods of arranging the flowers, fountains and greenery in aesthetically pleasing ways. This makes it one of the more beautiful sights to witness. The only problem is that since it runs along the same grounds as the Vatican grounds and St Peter’s Basilica and can have the pope walking it, it is normally off limits in terms of access. However there are special guided tours that are taken regularly where Swiss Guards are escorting you with English speaking and Vatican approved tour guides. You can find some of the Vatican Garden tours by the Vatican Museums.
The Vatican Museum
Oh, sure, the Vatican Museum is frequented about thousands of tourists daily, but the museum is also massive, and houses many rooms that are locked away for the average eye to see. There’s no telling the kinds of treasures and secrets that are hidden inside the Vatican Museum, and fortunately there is a single touring company, Dark Rome, that happens to provide access to some of the secret rooms that the general public never get to see. There VIP Vatican tour not only guarantees that you’ll see rooms no one else could see normally, but you’ll also get the Sistine chapel all to yourself after hours. You’ll get to experience many of the wonders behind the locked doors of the museum. Now if only they would unlock the secret record rooms under the Vatican.
The Vatican Necropolis
This area is also known as the Scavi. It is a massive section of various tombs that are underneath St Peter’s Basilica in which even St Peter himself is supposedly buried. The entire place has since then been excavated to the point that certain groups are allowed to visit it and see the various tombs. Once again you can only gain access to this place by booking a tour through the Vatican Excavations Office. You’ll be led into the passages below the Vatican’s main forum and biggest cathedral by an approved tour guide, which in some cases might be a Father or Priest of some kind. Once there, you’ll need to be prepared for the variety of smells that aren’t exactly pleasant, but if you can put up with it, you’ll get to see tombs for a couple of major people as well as some of the marking and etchings.
There are, of course other parts of the Vatican city that are off-limits, but many of these other areas are completely off limits, to where the only way you would gain access to them is to be in the clergy or the Swiss Guard. Additionally, each of these places are accessed through expensive tours compared to most other tours. This means it may be far too costly for you to manage to get into these places. So the other recommendation is to start befriending the Pope.
About the author:
Sarah Murphy has worked in Dublin for the last two years as a blogger, web content manager and marketing coordinator. A journalist by training and travel junkie by nature, she regularly travels to Italy for both business and to experience some of the Rome tours, where she mostly spends her time in search of the perfect gelato.