Vatican City State: A Unique Country

The Vatican is a truly unique state within a city, a city-museum which is inextricably linked to the history of the Roman Empire. Here, unique works of the best artists of all ages can be seen literally everywhere. Temples, palaces, museum collections of ancient art, masterpieces of Italian painting and sculpture are noteworthy and attract the guests’ attention. Despite the small area of the Vatican, it is widely known throughout the world. The sights of this city make it very attractive for tourists. One of the most beautiful architectural monuments of the Vatican City is the St. Peter’s Cathedral. It is located on St. Peter’s Square, designed by the famous Bernini. It has an oval shape and is surrounded by a row of pillars, which includes four rows of Doric pillars crowned by a balustrade with the statues of saints. In the center of the square, there is the Egyptian Obelisk, which was brought to the Vatican by Caligula, and two fountains built in the 17th century.

The old cathedral was built by Emperor Constantine in 349 on the spot where, according to the legend, Peter the Apostle had been martyred. The construction of the new building began in 1506 and was later completed by the well-known masters of the Renaissance period Raphael, Michelangelo, and Sangallo. The building of the new St. Peter’s was to take the form of a Greek cross, crowned with a huge dome. Continuing the work begun by Bramante, Michelangelo redesigned the project and built the dome of the cathedral.

Another remarkable architectural monument of the Vatican is the residence of the Pope, which was built during the rule of Pope Symmachus in the 6th century. During the Middle Ages, the papal residence was in the Lateran Palace, but at the end of the 14th century it was moved to the Vatican. In 1473, Pope Sixtus IV ordered the construction of the chapel, which was named Sistine Chapel in his honor. His successor, Pope Innocent VIII, began the construction of the second papal palace in the northern part of the city.

St. Paul’s Chapel was built in the first half of the 16th century and later became the place, where the magnificent paintings of Michelangelo, ‘Conversion of Saint Paul’ and ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Paul’, are stored.

In the Vatican, one can go to a number of different museums. The most interesting ones are the Museum of Egyptian Art, the Pio-Clementino Museum, the Museum of Etruscan art, the Chiaramonti Museum. Here one can find unique exhibits of art, collections of antique statues and mosaic works, including the famous statue of Apollo Belvedere. The Museums of Egyptian and Etruscan art contain a rich collection of paintings. The Chiaramonti Museum displays a collection of archaeological artifacts, Roman statues and busts, including the famous bust of Cicero.

Michelangelo’s frescoes, painted on the walls of the Sistine Chapel, are a true masterpiece of the Vatican City. In the Sistine Chapel, there are also works of other great masters of the Renaissance: Perugino, Rosselli, Botticelli, and Signorelli. In the Art Gallery of the Vatican, there is a collection of paintings created during the Renaissance period. Particular attention is paid to the works by Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.

The major attraction of the city is the Vatican Library, which holds about 65 thousand ancient manuscripts, 400 thousand ancient books, as well as many maps and unique copies of books – the handwritten poetry of Virgil and Cicero. A rich collection of the library also includes manuscripts and letters of art and culture of the Middle Ages, and many different editions of biblical texts.

Things to Do in June in New York City

The warm weather marks the arrival of several outdoor events in New York City, including free open-air concerts, movie screenings and theatre productions. From the Museum Mile Festival to Shakespeare in the Park, there are plenty of entertaining activities to fill your trip itinerary!

Museum Mile Festival
Admission is waived by nine of the Fifth Avenue museums during this one-day festival, which celebrates music, art and culture. Fifth is closed to traffic between 82nd and 105th (known as the Museum Mile) and is filled with live bands, entertainment and tons of activities for kids. Held rain or shine, the Museum Mile Festival attracts thousands of people each year and offers art lovers a wonderful way to see top museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and the Guggenheim for free!

Father’s Day
Father’s Day falls on the third Sunday of June and there are several ways to spoil Dad in the Big Apple. If he’s a baseball lover, spend an afternoon watching one of the city’s two major league baseball teams, or head to the ESPNZone in Times Square with sporting events on dozens of TVs. If Dad is more of a culture vulture than a sports buff, take in one of the free concerts or big-name benefit shows offered at the Central Park SummerStage outdoor venue, or head to Rockefeller Center early on a Friday morning to enjoy the free summer concerts put on by NBC’s Today Show.

Shakespeare in the Park
Since 1957, the Public Theatre has been presenting the wildly popular Shakespeare in the Park productions at the open-air Delacorte Theater in the heart of Central Park. Free tickets are distributed at 1p.m. on the day of the performance. Some theater-goers start to line up as early as 8 a.m. and it is a New York tradition to make the wait a fun event by packing a picnic lunch and basking in the sunshine. The semi-circular theatre is surrounded by the lovely landscape of Central Park’s 55-acre Great Lawn, and offers views of Turtle Pond and the beautiful Belvedere Castle. Tickets are non-exchangeable regardless of a rain-out.

Restaurant Week
Twice a year in January and June, New York City Restaurant Week gives foodies on a budget a chance to experience some of New York City’s most fabulous restaurants at a fraction of the cost. Discount lunch and dinner menus are offered by dozens of restaurants including celebrity chef favourites like Tom Colicchio’s Gramercy Tavern and Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. Visit your favourite New York City restaurant’s website to see if it is offering a Restaurant Week menu, and call well in advance to reserve a table. Reservations at many of the participating restaurants can also be booked online.

Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
Enjoy free Monday night outdoor movies in this urban park, beloved by New Yorkers. Films begin between 8p.m. and 9p.m. as the sun sets, and movie-goers starting arriving around 5p.m. to set up their blankets on the lawn and start picnicking. The film schedule can be found at the park’s official website. Bryant Park is located behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

New York is a walking city and June is a perfect month to walk it. The weather is warm, but not as hot and humid as it can get in July and August. A wide variety of walking tours cater to every interest from Bob Dylan fans to chocoholics. So put on comfortable shoes and explore the neighbourhoods!