The Vatican

The Vatican or the State of Vatican City, is the Territorial Support of the Holy See and all the institutions of the Roman Catholic church, landlocked in the Italian city of Rome, is the smallest state in the world with about 900 residents. The famous Pontifical Swiss Guard, responsible for protecting the Pope, also resides there. The Vatican, important archaeological site of the Roman world, located on the hill of the same name, is the seat of the papacy and the Catholic world. The reigning pope is Francesco (Francis), born in Argentina, elected in 2013 after the resignation of Benedict XVI. A humble and friendly Pope, loved by all, who is making significant changes to the Catholic Church. The City of the current Vatican can be considered as the remaining old Papal States. The ancient origin of this territory is a series of land donations. There were a few villas, built around imperial gardens that were property of Agrippina, whose son was the emperor Caligula who had built a private circus ‘Circus Vaticanus’ from which we find to date, only the obelisk. The Vatican is an absolute and elective monarchy: the Pope is elected by a qualified majority at the conclave, and reign in life by principle, but he can also give up. The Holy See also has several buildings outside of the Vatican City with their total area is about double that of the Vatican. We can name all of the Lateran (the basilica, the palace and the Scala Santa), St. Mary Major Basilica, Vatican Radio, the Gregorian University, Castel Gandolfo (the Pope’s summer residence), among others.

Tips

If you are visiting the Vatican during your stay in Rome, know that one day is not enough to see everything, but it’s a beginning. So to enjoy the day, try to arrive early to enter the Basilica, instead you will find yourself with a long queue that will take away the wish to enter. The best way to travel is by subway; you have to walk just a few meters and you are there. If you care to see the Pope, Francesco released on Wednesday. Inquire for its calendar. If you like museums, the Vatican counts 11 museums with rich collections of sacred art and profane as well as Etruscan and Egyptian antiquities and works of painters, including Michelangelo.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Montmartre, Paris, France

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, in the 18th district of Paris. In 1871 Alexandre Legentil writes a personal wish that eventually takes a nationwide in which he spoke of the misfortune that the France was suffering since the defeat of 1789 and in which he promised to contribute to the construction of a sanctuary dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paris. The election of the architect is done by competition, Paul Abadie was the winner. At its death he was replaced by Honoré Daumet and himself replaced by Charles Laisné that will add the collaboration of Émile Hirsch for stained glass. The first stone was laid 16 June 1875. The interior of the nave is inaugurated in 1891. The steeple was finished in 1912 and the façade in 1914 but as the war began, the consecration was in 1919. It’s just in 1923 it was really finished with interior decoration. The Basilica is cruciform Greek, adorned with four domes, with a central dome (83 m high) topped by a roof formed of a colonnade. The architect has chosen a white stone hard and self-cleaning in contact with water. The ceiling of the apse, inside, is decorated with the largest mosaic of France representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus designed by Luc Olivier Merson; its base has a phrase in latin meaning ‘To the holy heart of Jesus, the devout, penitent and grateful France’. There is also the largest bell of France. There are two equestrian statues in bronze of one and other side of the entrance that represent Saint-Louis and Joan of Arc. Inside there is the silver statue of the Sacred Heart of Christ. In 1928 they added a Christ of 5 metres in height, in stone, in the niche of the facade. It is the second most visited monument of France after the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Tips

The two nearest metro stations are Anvers on line 2 and Abbesses on line 12.
To get to the basilica you will have to climb 50 metres either by taking the stairs or with the funicular or the Montmartrobus enabling you to effortlessly.
You can also make a visit with Promotrain (small tourist train with sound for 55 people) which you can take at Place Blanche (metro Blanche line 2) or at Place du Tertre. You do not need to book unless you’re in a group of 15 people or more. You will also get a reduction in the fee in the case to be a group of 20 people or more.
If you can, avoid to visit the basilica over the weekend as there are many more tourists than on weekdays.
Unfortunately, it is forbidden to use cameras or video cameras inside the basilica but you can still take your camera to capture one of more beautiful views of Paris once at the top. You have a magnificent view!
It’s better you programmed to pass minimum half-day on-site because Montmartre has many shops, restaurants, cafes, the place where painters exhibit where at the same timeone of them could make you a portrait or to simply wander around this beautiful neighbourhood.
You will also find street artists who do their demonstrations in front of the basilica quite often as occasional sellers especially at weekends.

The Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel

The Holy Sepulchre is, according to Christian tradition, the tomb of Christ, that is to say, the cave where the body of Jesus of Nazareth was laid on the evening of his death on the Cross. It is said that the Emperor Hadrian had built in the second century, a temple dedicated to Venus on the location of the Holy Sepulchre to conceal the tomb where Jesus was buried. Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, replaced the temple by a church. A marble shrine was built above the tomb and it is this that we can see today. In the following years, a series of commemorative buildings draw a path through which the pilgrims slip in the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah, it was the place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Jerusalem was under Muslim rule from the VII century, so they perceived an entrance fee from each pilgrim. Today, we found there two successive pieces, as in Jewish burials from the Roman period: the Chapel of the Angel, where the body was prepared (washed, perfumed) and the Tomb Room.

Tips

Usually the Holy Sepulchre is open at 4:00 and closes at 19:00 from October to March and 21:00 between April and September. In the evening, at the time of closing, the three sacristans (one representative for each community) are present, to decide who will open the next day. The opening is in turn of the three communities.
Holy Mass presided by the Latin in the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre begins at 4:30 am and follows every half hour until 7:45. At 8:30 the brothers celebrate the Mass of the day sung in the antechamber of the Edicule. Simultaneously there is the Holy Mass at the Calvary, in the right aisle from 5:00 to 6:30. Every day at 16.00 the Franciscan community do its daily procession in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.