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The history of the Vatican goes back over 2,000 years to the height of the Roman Empire. The area was once a racetrack for chariots, decorated by an Egyptian obelisk brought over by Emperor Caligula that still stands today in the massive St. Peter's Square. During the Roman persecution of Christians, many people were executed on this racetrack, including St. Peter – or so the legend goes. The site became a place of pilgrimage for Christians, and when Christianity became the official state religion of Rome under Emperor Constantine, a large church was built on the site. This church became the most important in the Christian world and the home of the papacy for the next 2,000 years.
As the popes accrued more and more power over the following centuries, the Vatican increased its sphere of influence throughout the center of Italy, often engaging in warfare with other Italian city-states. When Italy was unified in 1870, the Vatican was forced to give up secular power, and much of its land was confiscated. In 1929, a treaty was signed between Italy and the Vatican to formally establish its 120 acres as an independent country inside the walls of Rome. With less than 900 residents, the Vatican is the world's smallest country, both by size and by population.
Fun fact: although the official language of Vatican City is Italian, the official language of the Catholic Church that runs it is still Latin. As a result, the Vatican is home to the only ATM in the world that uses Latin.
The Vatican belongs to a very select group of countries that you can walk across in a matter of hours. But despite its minuscule size, the Vatican is full of things to do. If you're a lover of art or history, you'll be able to spend days within this microstate. But there's more to the Vatican than just paintings and churches.
Get the best view in Rome from the dome of St. Peter's. Once the largest church in the world, St. Peter's Basilica is still one of the grandest buildings you'll ever visit. Its towering dome, designed by Michelangelo, offers the most magnificent panorama of the city of Rome. Visit at sunset to watch murmurations of starlings sweep over the city.
Get some peace and quiet in the Vatican Gardens. You'll need to plan ahead if you want to enjoy the manicured beauty of the pope's private garden. But there's no better place to collect your thoughts away from the bustle and chaos of Rome. Book a tour and explore the greenery and fountains of this unique and little-seen location.
Drink in the magnificence of St. Peter's Basilica. This massive church is the holiest site in the world for around 1.3 billion Catholics. Even if you're not of the faith, it's impossible not to be impressed by this church that contains priceless works of art and shrines to former popes and saints.
Get a sore neck at the Sistine Chapel. Although part of St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel can only be visited from the adjoining Vatican Museum. Receiving over five million visitors per year, this may be the world's most visited room. It's also home to one of the greatest works of art in world history, Michelangelo's famous ceiling and the Last Judgment that covers one entire wall of the chapel.
Explore a priceless collection at the Vatican museums. Many people make a beeline for the Sistine Chapel once they get inside the Vatican museum, but that's a mistake. This collection, amassed by a succession of popes over hundreds of years, is one of the world's foremost art galleries. Home to works by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Vincent van Gogh, and just about every other painter you're likely to have heard of, the sprawling Museum takes days to explore fully.
Venture underground at the Vatican Acropolis. Under the bulk of St. Peter’s, generations of popes lie buried. But below even that, the original Roman cemetery that occupied the site can still be seen. Book a guided tour well in advance and visit this astonishingly well-preserved site that tells the story of the transition of Rome from paganism to Christianity.
The Vatican is on line A of Rome's Metro system. Ottaviano- San Pietro station is a five-minute walk to the Vatican museums and St. Peter's Square. The Metro connects the Vatican with Rome's main train station, Termini.
Shuttle buses run from Termini station to the Vatican.
City bus lines 40, 62, 64, and 81 all serve the Vatican.
Tram line number 19 runs along the northern edge of the Vatican and carries passengers into Rome.
The Vatican's small size can be misleading. Even though this microstate doesn't cover a large area, you'll find yourself doing a lot of walking while you're here. Just wandering around St. Peter's Basilica or the museums will smash your daily step count.
It's important to note that security is high at the Vatican's main attractions. You won't be allowed into St. Peter's Basilica or the Vatican museums with large bags. The best option is to track down a Bounce luggage storage in Rome and leave your bags with them. That way, you can explore this fascinating place without carrying more than you need to.
St. Peter's Square: This colonnaded masterpiece by famous Baroque architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini is where the crowd gathers to hear the pope's weekly addresses. But on any day of the week, it's bustling with a unique combination of tourists, locals, priests and nuns, and other Vatican visitors. It's a great place to simply relax and take in the atmosphere of this unique state. Leave your bags at a convenient Vatican luggage storage so you can take it easy in this busy location.
Castel Sant'Angelo: Once the tomb of Emperor Hadrian, later converted into a castle to defend the Vatican and its popes from their enemies, and now home to a museum, this imposing tower on the banks of the river Tiber is a great place to explore Vatican and Roman history. The views from the roof are worth the price of admission alone. Large bags aren't allowed here, so make sure to drop yours off at a luggage storage location before visiting.
The Apostolic Palace: Home of the Pope and headquarters of the Catholic Church, the palace is also home to a museum, a cattle farm that provides the pope's dairy products, a library, and the Vatican Observatory. Security at this location is understandably tight, but parts of the palace can be visited by guided tour.
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The price for luggage storage near Vatican City is just €5/bag for the entire day.
Yes. Every bag is tagged with a security seal and comes with the $10,000 Bounce Guarantee. Every location is required to uphold tight security precautions. You may be asked to show ID and you will be required to use a credit card to book through Bounce in advance. With hundreds of thousands of bags stored, you can count on Bounce to handle your baggage near Vatican City.
Yes, there are storage lockers and many other luggage drop off points in the Vatican City area. Bounce has multiple luggage storage locations nearby Vatican City and in the broader Rome area where you can conveniently store your luggage with full security and the $10,000 safekeeping gurantee.