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The Papal Palace: What To Know Before Visiting

When most people think of visiting the Vatican, they think of the Pope’s orations, St. Peter’s Square, and Michelangelo’s frescoes adorning the Sistine Chapel. These sites are just the starting point for any visit to the Vatican. 

The Vatican is a true treasure, full of works of art, a place of significant historical events, and a collection of sights that are less well known to the public. If you have decided to visit the Papal Palace, stay and find out what you need to know before you visit it. 


Northeast of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the Apostolic Palace, known as the official residence of the Pope. The former summer palace of the Popes has been transformed into the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo. 

The construction of the Papal Palace took place mainly between 1471 and 1605. The palace has over 1,000 rooms, including several papal apartments, the Vatican Library, several government offices of the Catholic Church, and numerous private and public chapels. 

There are great sites to be seen, both inside and outside the palace. It is prohibited to see some of the stunning rooms because of the numerous tours coming every day, but your guide will give you insight into the history and purpose of every room. 

There are also various residences, offices, museums, and public and private chapels. While visiting it, you will see the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms, famous for their paintings and architecture, and the Borgia Apartments. Other parts of the palace, such as the Sala Regia and Cappella Paolina, are closed to visitors.

Various gardens, fishponds, a fascinating museum, a library, and a nature reserve, to name a few, are among the few great features the palace is known for and are well worth exploring. The palace is also known as the Papal Palace, the Palace of the Vatican, and the Vatican Palace.

Best time to visit

The attractions of the Apostolic Palace can be seen between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Off-seasons are the best times to visit it, so be fast and book your official Vatican tickets to avoid waiting and stress. At the Vatican Palace, a lot of tourists attend the Pope’s speeches on Wednesdays. 

For other sights, the best time to visit the Vatican is very early in the morning or after 4 p.m. The museum opens at 9 a.m. However, crowds start around 7 a.m. outside it. It is recommended to go there as early in the morning as possible. 

In the morning, visitors decide to go and see the chapel first. If you decide to go there in the afternoon, you should bear in mind that the museum closes at 6 p.m., and be sure to have enough time to visit everything. 

On the weekends, there are huge crowds, so if it’s possible for you to visit it between Tuesday and Friday, you will avoid long lines and waiting, and you will have much more time for sightseeing. Moreover, on Mondays, all other museums are closed, so visitors go to the Vatican Museum instead. 

Dress code

The Holy See, as an independent state, has its own rules. All visitors must go through the usual security checks and be prepared to leave their backpacks and bags with security personnel if necessary.

When visiting the Vatican, there is a specific dress code that must be followed. Avoid revealing clothing such as short skirts, dresses, and shorts. It is also recommended that you bring a scarf to cover yourself if you are wearing revealing summer clothes, as you will need to cover your shoulders. 

Wearing flip-flops is considered too informal and too casual to enter the Vatican. It is not a Vatican rule, but it is crucial to wear comfortable walking shoes because most people spend their whole day on their feet, walking on hard surfaces and standing in lines.

If you are wearing a hat, you must remove it when entering the Vatican building. Things such as food, metal tools, knives, and scissors are not allowed. 

Papal audience

The Papal Audience is an opportunity for visitors to the Vatican to meet and be blessed by the Pope. It is held on Wednesdays when the Pope is in the Vatican. Papal audiences consist of readings and small lessons preached by the Pope, usually in Italian but also in English and many other languages. The audience with the Pope ends with a joint prayer in Latin. 

At the end of the prayer, as head of the Catholic Church, he gives the apostolic blessing to the multitudes, which he extends to their sick and afflicted relatives and all religious people, to bless the rosaries and other items brought by them. In the summer, an audience is usually held in St. Peter’s Square. There is a seating area for those with tickets near the front, and you should get there early to get a good seat. 

The Papal Palace is a great touristic site, and you will be enchanted by its history and unique architecture. Keep in mind that sightseeing at each location will take several hours, so make sure you know what to see in Vatican City in advance and allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy each attraction.

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