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The Vatican’s Secret Side

When in Rome, many people feel that visiting Vatican City is a must. This is where St. Peter was martyred—the basilica was built over his grave in the 4th century AD.  Other than a brief sojourn in France, the Vatican has been the residence of every Pope and a site of pilgrimage. Although the smallest state in the world, it holds the genius of the Greeks, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

While there, look for the smaller stories, too. Pope Victor I was a Berber, while Miltiades and Gelasius came from African families. Four Popes were married. The 16th century Bramante staircase was designed so it could be ridden on horseback. Keep an eye out for wonders excavated from Egypt and Etruscan tombs. Reaching along miles of corridors, the Vatican is a miracle of time and culture.