Vatican City Accommodation

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Where to stay in Vatican City

Exploring Vatican City

The tiniest city-state in the world and the heart of Roman Catholic Christianity, Vatican City comprises a walled enclave, 13 buildings in the surrounding small districts of Vaticano, Monte Mario, and Prati, and historic Castel Gandolfo, the traditional summer residence of the Pope. Officially, only 800 people live within the city state, with many Catholic dignitaries, clergy, members of the Swiss Guards, lay workers, and nuns residing in adjacent districts and commuting to work in the Vatican. The magnificent architecture of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican itself are set within St Peter’s Square, believed to be the site of the death of St Peter during the Roman emperor Nero’s persecution of Christians.

All roads lead to Rome, as the ancient saying goes, and most roads in Rome lead eventually to St Peter’s Square and Vatican City. From nearby neighbourhoods, an exquisite walking route to the piazza starts at Piazza Venezia via Via del Plebescito and Corso Vittoria Emanuele, ending in Via della Conciliazione for the square and passing by many of Rome’s architectural delights. From Navona on the far bank of the Tiber River with its charming Hotel Raphaël-Relais, you’ll pass by ancient Castel Sant' Angelo with its secret tunnel leading to the Vatican.

Sights nearby

Vatican City is one of the most visited places in the world for its premier place in the history of Christianity, its magnificence, and its artistic treasures.

Castel San’t Angelo
Castel Sant' Angelo’s central core dates from 135 AD and is reputedly linked to the Vatican by a secret passage, allowing medieval popes to arrive unnoticed. An infamous prison until 1870 and now a museum, the castle was immortalised by Giuseppe Verdi in his opera, Tosca.

Basilica di San Pietro
The Basilica, designed by Michelangelo, Bernini, Maderno, and Bramante, and consecrated in 1626 is perhaps the world’s most glorious religious building, with its elaborate interior traditionally home to St Peter’s tomb. Michelangelo’s Pieta is here, and numerous works by other great Renaissance sculptors adorn the tombs of popes and Roman dignitaries. The Papal Altar and sanctuary containing the Chair of St Peter were designed by Bernini, and the many side chapels hold famed examples of Renaissance art and architecture.

Sistine Chapel
Of the many chapels in Vatican City’s Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel is the crowning glory due to Michelangelo’s Last Judgment panel and frescoed ceiling, considered to be the artistic genius’s finest work. Refreshed by a somewhat controversial clean-up, the chapel now features glowing colours in its frescoes which show every detail of the artist’s work.

Vatican Museum
One of the world’s most splendid museums, the Vatican Museum is worth a whole day’s exploration for its superb collections of classical Roman and Renaissance art. Highlights include the Raphael Rooms and works by Leonardo, Titian, Giotto, and Fra Angelico.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Although Vatican City itself has no accommodation, few public amenities and just one café, pizzeria and bar, there are plenty of eateries and lodgings in and around St Peter’s Square. Vaticano district offers the best option for accommodation and dining, with hotels such as Hotel Alimandi Vaticano and the Palazzo Cardinal Cesi just a short walk from Vatican City and St Peter’s Square. For history buffs with an eye for the romantic, it’s possible to find hotels converted from ancient buildings. Publications, unique postage stamps, and religious souvenirs including rosaries and replicas of artefacts displayed in the Vatican Museum are the only shopping opportunities in Vatican City, but the gift shops here and in the basilica offer fine quality workmanship and many beautiful religious items.

Public transport

If you’re staying in the city centre, bus number 64 runs to Vatican City, and taxis are available across the city. Vehicles are not allowed inside the walls of Vatican City, but its small size makes for easy exploration on foot.