The Vatican Gardens are formed by several gardens, parks and even a small wood and take up more than half (23 hectares) of the grounds of the Vatican City in Rome. The Giardini Vaticani are adorned with numerous statues and fountains. There are also several buildings, including the one from which Radio Vaticano transmits their broadcasts, plus small fortresses and other medieval monuments.
Vatican Gardens Rome
Opening hours and admission
Visiting the gardens is only possible by making a reservation for a guided tour through the website of the Vatican itself. This tour takes approximately two hours, the first 30 minutes of which will be by bus. The price of a ticket is 32 Euros, but children between 6 and 18 years of age and students younger than 26 pay only 24 Euros. A visit to the Vatican Museums (without guide) is included in this ticket. Opening hours: Every day, except Wednesday and Sunday. When making the reservation online, one can choose the date, time and language of the tour. The Roma Pass cannot be used. The Omnia Vatican & Rome Card can.
History and Description
In the early middle ages the area was already used for orchards and vineyards, but it was during the ages of Renaissance and Baroque that the Vatican Gardens came into being. In 1279, when Pope Nicholas III returned to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace, he had walls put around the grounds and an orchard, a field and a garden created within these walls.
In the early 16th century, under Pope Julius II, the gardens were redesigned. Bramante‘s original concept was divided into 3 parts: the Cortile del Belvedere, de Cortile della Biblioteca and the Cortile della Pigna. He also had a labyrinth (traditionally a popular part of Renaissance gardens) created.
Bramante also replaced the earlier walls with a rectilinear and very wide one.
According to legend the grounds of the Vatican Gardens were covered with earth brought from Golgotha by Saint Helena, in order to symbolically unite the blood of Christ with that of the thousands of early Christians that had been prosecuted by Nero.
Vatican Gardens Highlights
- An artificial grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.
- An olive tree, which was a gift of the Israeli government.
- The Villa Pia, a summer house built in 1560 by Pirro Ligorio for Pope Pius IV.
- The Arco della Sentinella is an arch that gives direct access to the Palazzo Apostolici from the Vatican Gardens. A guard post prevents tourists from passing through this arch.
There are over 100 fountains in the Vatican gardens. Perhaps the most impressive one of these is the Fountain of the Eagle. It is decorated with the symbols of the Borghese family, the eagle and the dragon. The fountain was placed in the gardens to commemorate the arrival of water through the renovated Trajan Aqueduct.