The tour will take you into the green heart of the world’s smallest state. A vast heart all the same, because over a third of the 44 hectares making up the tiny state is occupied by these green areas.
Throughout the centuries, starting in the 13th and thanks to the initiatives of various Pontiffs, these gardens have become richer and richer. Today they’re here around us to tell the stories of centuries and centuries of Papal history.
The Vatican Gardens are a unique encounter between nature, art and the Christian faith. A nature looked after with loving care, the works of so many artists, architects and creators and the Faith that inspired those who wanted these projects to coalesce in one harmonious location.
Here we can admire Mediterranean flowers and plants, exotic species imported from faraway continents, lush lawns, centuries-old trees, hedgerows and even a small wood.
It is also a concentration of unique architectural and artistic structures: small temples, villas, grottoes, fountains, towers, ancient walls, statues, archaeological findings. Works that are memorials of events, places and saints linked to the bi-millennial history of the Church.
The gardens are a discreet oasis of peace where Pontiffs have sought a quiet refuge where to reflect and rest. For centuries reserved and secret, today the gardens are open to visitors from all around the world
Office at Piazza Pio XII, 9 (near Saint Peter’s Square)
How to reach us:
Date and time of your visit must be pre-booked.
Visits are available every day except Sundays and Vatican festivities starting at the following times:
from 01.01.2020 to 28.03.2020: 11:45
from 30.03.2020 to 31.10.2020: 10:00 and 11:00
LANGUAGES AVAILABLE ON BOARD
Italian, English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Russian
See the map of the Vatican Gardens
VATICAN FESTIVITIES For an updated list of Vatican festivities, click here
MEETING POINT: Arrive at least 15 minutes before your pre-booked time at our office at Piazza Pio XII, 9
In the heart of the Vatican Gardens we find a faithful reproduction of the Lourdes grotto, a gift made to Pope Leo XIII in 1902 from the Bishop of the diocese that includes Lourdes.
The altar at the centre is original and had been in the Lourdes grotto for all of 100 years. It was donated to Pope John XXIII in 1958.
Here the Popes come to pray and celebrate Holy Mass during particular Marian celebrations. Benedict XVI often stops here to pray during his walks.
On special occasions groups of faithful go up to the grotto in the evening and hundreds of flambeaux, the candles used in Lourdes for the great processions on the grounds of the sanctuary, light up the roads of the Vatican Gardens.hide
The Villa of Pius IV is a jewel of Renaissance architecture built by Pirro Ligorio, garden architect and hydraulic engineer to whom we also owe the Villa d'Este in Tivoli.
Elegant pavilions decorated with frescoes, stuccos and mosaics gather round a central nymphaeum embellished with fountains adorned with statues.
The water gushing from the fountains and the shade provided by centuries-old pine trees create an ideal place to defeat the heat of the Roman summers.
Today the villa houses the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.hide
Since antiquity Rome has been the city where water has inspirited the life of its inhabitants in many ways. The Pontiffs, in particular from the 16th century, continued to offer the city water as a resource for life, but also as joy for the eyes.
The English poet Shelley wrote in his diary: "The fountains are enough to justify a trip to Rome".
And the heart of the Vatican, the place of solace for the body and the soul, couldn’t not have its own fountains offering a spot to pause and meditate.
With this fountain, commissioned by Paul V Borghese in the early 17th century, the Dutch architect Giovanni Vasanzio recreated a very special environment: a series of shadowy caves covered with musk and climbing plants. Miniature waterfalls, tritons and winged dragons fuel with their gushes of water the great central basin from which the heads of two nymphs emerge.
The fountain is dominated from above by a large eagle. Dragons and eagles are heraldic symbols of the Borghese family.hide
Visit with priority entrance and multilingual audioguide App