“The world's smallest independent state, Vatican City is accessed through St. Peter's Square, surrounded by an elliptical colonnade with some 140 saints on top Straight ahead is the facade of St. Peter's Basilica, the center of world Catholicism. The Circus of Nero, where St. peter was crucified, once sat on this spot, and in 324 the emperor Constantine commissioned a basilica to be built here in the saint's honor. Te present structure dates from the 16th and 17th centuries and contains cream-of-the-crop statuary, the Michelangelo-designed dome and his famous Pieta, and so much more that i's overwhelming--exactly as it was supposed to be. To the north of the piazza, the Vatican Museums contain one of the world's greatest collections of art from antiquity and the Renaissance, including Raphael's famous stanze (several rooms containing many of the artist's masterpieces), housed in a labyrinth of palaces and galleries. The gem of the collection is the famous Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.
(1000 Places to See Before You Die)”