The Vatican Gardens represents the green heart of the Vatican City. They are inside the Vatican walls in Rome and there are different types of entrances and guided tours to visit them. Let’s see how to visit them and what can be visited.
The Vatican Gardens are situated inside the Vatican City in Rome, more precisely in Viale Vaticano, west from Saint Peter’s Basilica. The gardens of the Pope occupy 23 hectares of the 0,44 square kilometres of the Vatican City. They cover an extension from South to Northwest of this little state. The Vatican Museum separates them from the North Area where banks, newspapers and the apostolic palaces are located.
Since 1279, when Pope Nicholas III brought the papal residence from the Lateran back to the Vatican, the gardens have always been the place where the Pope rested and meditated.
Pope Niccolò III Orsini decided the creation of this huge park. As he had a deep knowledge in medicinal plants he ordered the creation of a vegetable garden for the cultivation of medicinal herbs and an orchard.
The Vatican Gardens were inaugurated in 1279 and had their period of best architectural development between the 16th and 17th centuries.
These new spaces soon became an area of relaxation and meditation for the popes as well as a place to visit for many tourists from all over the world.
How to reach the Vatican Gardens
The Vatican Gardens are inside the Vatican State and they can be easily reached with public transportation. You will need to reach Viale Vaticano, at the entrance of the Vatican Museums.
If you take the metro, line A, the nearest stops are Ottaviano or Cipro. If you take the bus the nearest stops are located in the square in front of the Vatican Museums (nr 49) or the bus stop Piazza del Risorgimento (nr 32, 81, 982) of the bus stop Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni (nr 492, 990).
How to visit the Vatican Gardens with no line
It is possible to visit the Vatican Gardens with an ecological minibus that permits the visitors to see the inside of the smallest state in the world, among great monuments, works of art and natural wonders. The tour is carried out by minibus and it leads to the discovery of an unforgettable architectural and artistic heritage. Visitors are accompanied throughout the tour by the explanation of an audio guide in the language chosen at the time of booking. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and there are no intermediate stops. The visit is scheduled from Monday to Saturday in various time slots.
Audio guides are available in various languages including Italian, English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Russian.
The ticket also includes the possibility, at the end of the guided tour, to visit (without guide and limited to the day of issue) the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
The Vatican Gardens tour is not accessible to wheelchair users or children under 6 years of age for safety reasons.
The itinerary of the visit is subject to change due to unexpected activities decided by the Pope or the Vatican City State.
Vatican Gardens – what can be visited
Walking inside the Vatican Gardens, you will admire many fountains, like the Fontana della Galera (Galera fountain). It is a famous fountain: a galleon that shoots jets of water from its cannons. In the French garden there is the Fountain of the Frogs, so called by the four frogs that spurts water.
During the visit you will also find the Fontana dell’Aquila (Fountain of the Eagle) sculpted by Jan Van Salten for Pope Paul V Borghese. The fountain is shaped like a cave on which an eagle rests with two dragons spraying water underneath. The Fountain of the Sacramento is another noteworthy fountain of the Vatican Garden, shaped like an altar with spouts that give the optical effect of candles.
Inside the Vatican Gardens there are also many sculptural works. The white marble Lady of Guadalupe and the bronze sculpture of Our Lady of Fatima, as an example. In the Cortile della Pigna there is the bronze statue of Saint Peter the Apostle, made by Filippo Gnaccarini.
Going up to the Vatican Hill you find the French Garden, adorned with camellias, roses and oleander bushes. From here you will admire a beautiful panorama that goes over the Alban Hills and the former papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. Equally beautiful and worthy of interest is the Italian Garden with plants, trees and bushes in geometric shapes. In the Vatican Gardens, in addition to the walls, fountains, statues, there are also caves dedicated to Mary, for example the one dedicated to the Madonna della Guardia (Lady of the Guard), erected by Pope Benedict XV and the reproduction of the Grotto of Lourdes built in 1902.
In addition to the suggestive natural landscapes inside the Vatican Gardens there are also many historical and artistic remains, as the Leonine Walls, built to protect the first nucleus of the Vatican City and commissioned by Pope Leo VI.
Another historical artistic remain of the Vatican Gardens is Saint John’s Tower, on the top of the Vatican Hill.
We should also mention the House of the early 13th Gardener which today houses the chief of the 27 gardening experts who take care every day of this green area and of the building of Vatican Radio. Inside the Vatican Gardens there is also the Casina of Pius IX which includes a villa with stuccos and a loggia with a fountain, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Not everyone will probably know that in these gardens there is also the transmitting station from which the first radio message in history was transmitted, Guglielmo Marconi sent it in the presence of Pius XI.