In the midst of the lush greenery and scenic views of the Italian countryside, lies the tiny town of Castel Gandolfo. The town, located on the Alban Hills and overlooking Lake Albano, hosts around 9,000 residents. Visitors from all over the world flock to this town to see the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo or the Apostolic Palace.
The Apostolic Palace is part of a 135-acre (54.6-ha) complex with buildings surrounded by beautiful gardens. It served as the summer home of the Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church, for centuries. In 2016, it was opened to the public as a museum. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Papal Palace on your next visit to Rome and Vatican City.
The Apostolic Palace -- also known as the Papal Villas -- has been in the Vatican’s possession since 1596 when it was seized from the Savelli family, who failed to pay their dues to the church. Experts believe that Pope Urban VIII Barberini (1623-1644) was the first pope to vacation at this residence in 1626. Since then the Palace has been extensively restored and expanded to its current luxurious state.
Most of Pope Urban VIII’s successors used the Apostolic Palace as a summer retreat and vacation home. The Palace is designed with ornately-decorated rooms, including a private room and chapel for the Pope. Pope Pius XII and Pope Paul VI died in this room in 1958 and 1978 respectively.
Around 20 rooms of the Apostolic Palace are open to the public, allowing visitors to understand the Popes’ lifestyles over the last 500 years. Paintings, relics, and liturgical vestments, throughout the museum tell the stories related to the Popes that have used this residence. Interesting artifacts are also on display, such as the sedan chair of Pope Pius IX and the BMW used by Pope Wojtyla.
For visitors that prefer to explore history away from the crowds in Rome and the Vatican, the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo is the ideal outing.
Q. What does my Apostolic Palace tour include?
A. You can visit the Apostolic Palace, adjoining pontifical gardens and depending on your ticket, you may have access to Villa Barberini and its gardens.
Q. Does my Apostolic Palace tour include skip-the-line access?
A. No. In general, an Apostolic Palace tour does not include skip-the-line access.
Q. What are the Apostolic Palace hours?
A. The Papal Palace is open to tourists from 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM from Monday to Saturday. The Palace is closed every Sunday, except the last Sunday of each month, when it is open from 09:00 AM to 02:00 PM. It is also closed on Easter Sunday, 29 June, 25 and 26 December.
Q. How long does a typical tour of the Apostolic Palace last?
A. Depending on the tour you have chosen, a tour of the Apostolic Palace can take around 30 to 50 minutes.
Q. How do I get to the Papal Palace at Castel Gandolfo?
A. Castel Gandolfo is around 25 km south-east of Rome. Visitors can drive to the scenic city or opt for a short train journey from the Rome Termini Station. The train journey is around 40 minutes.
Q. What should I wear to the Papal Palaces?
A. Since the Palace holds significant religious and historical importance, visitors are expected to dress modestly. Shorts or sleeveless shirts are not allowed. Wear comfortable shoes for easy exploration.