If you’re visiting Rome, chances are you’ll make a trip to the Vatican. This world-famous tourist destination is home to some of the most impressive architecture and art in the world. But did you know that there are many other hidden gems in the Vatican? If you’re interested in seeing some of the lesser-known sights, join us on a tour of the hidden gems of the Vatican!
Loggia of Cardinal Bibbiena (Rafael’s Loggia)
This hidden gem is located in the Vatican Museums and is often overlooked by visitors. The loggia was designed by Raphael and is decorated with beautiful frescoes.
“Raphael’s Bible” refers to the small gallery’s 13 domed bays that depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The “grotesque” style frescos are the key ornamental component. Following the discovery of frescoes in the underground remains of Nero’s Golden House, Domus Aurea, from the first century, these paintings gained popularity.
The frescos depict both realism and fantasy-inspired human characters, animals, and flora. The human figures were obviously influenced by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
The Sarcophagus of Helena
This ancient Roman sarcophagus is one of the most interesting pieces in the Vatican Museums. It’s believed to be the burial place of St. Helena.
Saint Helena was a Christian saint who was the mother of Constantine the Great. After her son became emperor of Rome, she traveled to the Holy Land to find religious relics. She is also credited with finding the True Cross, the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
The sarcophagus is made of marble and is decorated with scenes from the life of Christ. What makes this piece so unique is the fact that it’s one of the only surviving examples of Christian art from this period.
The sarcophagus was found in the Vatican Necropolis, which is located beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. This hidden gem is often overlooked by visitors and is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient Roman art.
The Salvador Dali’s The Announcement
This hidden gem is located in the Pinacoteca, which is the art gallery of the Vatican Museums. The painting was done by Salvador Dali and is a surrealist work that depicts the announcement of Jesus’ birth.
Dali was commissioned to do the piece in 1948, and it was completed in 1949. The painting is made up of two panels, which were originally displayed separately. The right panel shows Joseph and Mary looking stunned as an angel appears to them. The left panel shows the shepherds reacting to the news.
Dali’s surrealist style is evident in the painting, with its distorted forms and dreamlike atmosphere. Critics have interpreted the work in different ways, with some seeing it as a critique of Christianity and others seeing it as a celebration of faith. Regardless of interpretation, the painting is a masterful example of surrealist art.
The Chryselephantine Statue of Athena
The Roman academic Francesco Capranesi found these two ivory artifacts—a chryselephantine figure’s head and left forearm—during excavations at Monte Calvo in Sabina in 1824. Rich family the Bruttii Praesentes was the retinue of the emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.).
The term “chryselephantine method” comes from the Greek terms chryss (gold) and elephàntinos (ivory), which relate to the primary materials employed. This technique was unusual in ancient antiquity and was almost solely used to create great religious sculptures. Due to the great value and perishable nature of the raw materials used in these works, there are very few surviving specimens, making their discovery at archaeological sites a rare event.
Out of the many works of art that were found at the house, Pope Gregory XVI regrettably only purchased these two (6 July 1832). In light of the repair of the Athena Parthénos and the production of works like the Zeus in the Olympion in Athens and the votive deposit at the Isthmian sanctuary of Corinth, they should be considered in the context of the resurgence of this technique during the reign of Hadrian. The original components belonged to a life-sized Athena chryselephantine statue that symbolized peace.
The Mars of Todi
The Mars of Todi is a life-size Etruscan terracotta statue that was found in the tomb of Lars Pulena at the Necropolis of Monte Rebuffone, near Todi, Italy. The statue dates back to the late fifth century BCE and depicts the Roman god of war, Mars.
The statue was discovered in 1885 by Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli. It’s believed to be a votive offering made by Lars Pulena, who was an Etruscan military leader. The statue is currently on display at the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme museum in Rome.
Despite its name, the Mars of Todi is actually a representation of the Etruscan god of agriculture, Vegoia. This is evident from the statue’s stance and the presence of a plough behind him. The statue is a unique example of Etruscan art, and is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient Italian civilizations.
Giuseppe Momo’s Spiral Staircase
This hidden gem is located in the Vatican Museums, and is often overlooked by visitors. The staircase was designed by Giuseppe Momo and completed in 1932. It’s made of white marble and has a double helix structure.
The staircase is named after its designer, and is one of the most famous examples of Italian Rationalist architecture. It’s considered to be a masterpiece of engineering, and is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture or design.
The spiral staircase is unique because of its double helix structure. This design allows for two people to walk up or down the stairs at the same time, without getting in each other’s way. The staircase is also made of white marble, which gives it a clean and elegant look.