6.45 am Polish time, and I’m sitting comfortably on a plane to my beloved homeland and I write. Next to me Kasia – blond hair girl from Mikolajki Pomorskie (small town, north part of Poland), proud representative of the Lemko community (national minority) and also the crew traveling as a passenger. We talked a little bit, but apparently my torrent of words put that friendly and the pretty girl effectively to sleep… So now that she’s sleeping tightly, and the memories from the Vatican (I returned the previous day) are still fresh, I’m taking you on a journey to the heart of the Catholic world!
Vatican, the Capital of Peter, the Apostolic Capital , the place of residence of the highest authorities of the Catholic Church. The smallest country in the world, located in the center of Rome. A unique piece of land from which decisions affect almost the whole world. The decisions, which through all those centuries are taken from behind of 10 meter high walls, in the shelter of richly decorated rooms, both by brilliant minds and complete mediocrity.
And this beauty of the architecture and the history hidden behind, together with Marko and Newana from Serbia, Marion from France and Layla from South Africa wanted to discover. And believe me, there’s a lot to discover. Number of rooms of the palace, chambers deployed on such a small territory seems to have no end. But, what really amazes is their interior. Ornaments, decorations, sculptures, paintings and frescoes by the greatest artists of their eras, simply overwhelm.
For the beginning – the most valuable and the most unique, the Sistine Chapel, whose greatest works are made by the Michelangelo himself. Perhaps like some of you, I’m not an expert in art, but no matter what your interests are, you just can’t go out of here unmoved. Even the way leading to it, already has enough to offer:
And when I entered the room of John III Sobieski (Polish King from XVII century), which is dominated by a painting by Jan Matejko (Polish artist from XIX century), showing the victorious king of Poland after the Battle of Vienna in 1683. When the invincible Hussars cavalry saved Christian Europe from the invasion of the Turks, my heart almost exploded from my chest from pride :)
But back to the same chapel. The frescoes adorning it are precedent worldwide. Not only in terms of their dimensions, but also about what is presents. Let’s start by looking at the The Last Judgment. 160m2! The trumpets herald the coming of the day of judgment. The dead arise from their graves, sinners fall into the trap of demons, saints crowding near Jesus. Savior whose image completely different from how is he usually portrayed – the stately robes, static, self-possessed.
The miracle, which was almost destroyed
First of all, it’s not just a slender man, but muscular athlete presented like a Greek god. With muscles easily could compete with today’s winners of the title Mr. Olympia. Plus he’s not as usual, merciful, but bad! Angry! Even Mary being at his side, is curled up in terror. The image is simply shocking!
If all this were not enough, most of the figures in the painting were originally completely naked. When Michelangelo unveiled work (1541), Rome was speechless. Scandal! Heresy! They shouted. The work they wanted to weld, destroy, and artist arrest. Fortunately, nothing happened. As part of the compromise it was decided that most of the characters will have added small loincloth to cover gentiles from the sight of eyes.
Amendments carried by a disciple of the great creator – Daniele de Volterra, which was given the nickname “the underwear man”.
What’s over us not step down at all to the mural on the wall. The vault having a size of two tennis courts, presents the history of mankind. Creation, the fall of Adam and Eve, the story of Noah’s Ark and others. In total Michelangelo painted on 500m2 175 scenes and 350 characters. This work is unprecedented, it’s something unique!
To the Basilica in a hustla style ;)
Unique is also the Basilica of St. Peter, the most recognizable building of the Vatican. Because when saying “the Vatican” you see the enormous St. Peter’s Square over which reigns the majestic Basilica, built on the tomb of the first pope – St. Peter.
Vatican Bank, which is the Institute of Religious Works, gain profits from donations from all the churches in the world, minting, profits from pilgrims and tourists visits. And the latter come here every year approx. 7 million. So you can, therefore, imagine the queue willing to explore it.
It’s no different, of course, to the hallmark of the Vatican, the Basilica. The crowd willing to enter fills almost the entire square. This sight and the approaching inexorably time of pick up for a flight discouraged my company to further exploration.
In the head tangled thought: maybe I should go back with them and in order to sleep properly before the flight? But then I woke up and previous thought was successfully fought by follow: hello?! You are in the Vatican !!! Enjoy! And on a night flight somehow it will be.
Lonely, I politely stood at the end of infinitely extending line to inside. I quickly realize that before me are mainly organized tours, so I thought, what would anyone care that one person more would be before them?
Confidently I went to the front of the queue. Next to me a dozen tourists from China. They look at me and start talking sth. Too break the ice I smiled and said: Nihao, meniuuu what means hello beautiful. After the square immediately blew a chuckle of charming Chinese women, and I walked into the Basilica :)
They didn’t spare the money…
Going inside I quickly realized that seeing the interior is worth the wait. Temple isn’t only overwhelming us. It dents us into the floor realizing how tiny we are and with what we’re dealing with. 23,000 square meters! It’s like … (give a comparison)
And every one of those 23k is filled with something special, valuable, noteworthy. Finesse and ideas of designers seem to have no limits. Designed, among others, by no one else but… Michelangelo!
Inside of the basilica, one of the most famous sculptures is also that of Michelangelo – Pieta, depicting Mary holding Jesus in her arms just taken off from the Cross. Today, however, the sculpture can be admired only from behind the glass. In 1972. some idiot from Australia threw himself at the statue with a hammer, shouting I’m Jesus Christ! As a result of the attack, Mary lost her hand and a piece of the face. Jesus also got a hit.
The sculpture was reconstructed on the basis of its most faithful copy located… in Poland! More precisely, in the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Poznan.
And who guards all this?
The Vatican is a place of many visits of tourists, worshippers and freaks. Certainly not just one savage from the Middle East wish to blow it all to hell. So somebody has to defend this sanctuary. The task at the beginning of the XVI century, was entrusted to the Swiss Guard, today considered the oldest and smallest army in the world.
Why they choose the Swiss? At that time at the courts of Europe it was fashionable to have such units. They were considered brave, tough and extremely loyal.
What conditions you must meet to become a soldier of the Swiss Guard? You must be a citizen of Switzerland, a Catholic with immaculate opinion, held military service in his country, count from 19 to 30 springs and measure at least 175 cm.
Through all these centuries, mostly they comply with their duties perfectly, hopefully in the era of today’s turmoil their colorful costumes still remained deterrent for all malicious
Time to get off!
11.30 am Polish time. I’m sitting comfortably in the… bus. I started to write on the plane and finish in local public bus on route Różan (town north-east from Warsaw) – Warsaw West Trail Station. I love traveling but from time to time I have to visit grandmother as well :) Okay, I’ve to finish, I need to get off!
Video from the visit you can see here: