All You Need to Know About The Gardens of Vatican City | Tickets, Timings, Highlights
Gardens of the Vatican City
Within Rome’s papal state lies the Gardens of Vatican City or Giardini Vaticani. Spread over 57 acres, this area has a Renaissance layout, adorned with sculptures, fountains, monuments, botanicals, and buildings that date as far back as the 6th Century. The Vatican Gardens are rarely crowded due to their limited-entry policy. While these manicured grounds are the perfect place in the city to enjoy some peace, it is also the place where you can get some of the best views of the St Peter’s Basilica Dome the twin cities of Rome and Vatican City.
Vatican Gardens | Key Information
Total Area: 23 hectares (57 acres)
Highest point: 60 m above mean sea level
Started in: 1279
Started by: Pope Nicholas III
Landscaping styles: English, French and Italian
Patroness of the gardens: Saint Therese of Lisieux The Little Flower
Select Your Tickets Vatican Garden Tour and Vatican Museum Tickets
Combo (Save 4%): Tickets to Colosseum & Vatican Museums with Sistine Chapel
Why Take a Vatican Gardens Tour?
- In 1279 when Pope Nicholas III shifted his residence to the Vatican from the Lateran Place, he closed the area with walls and created an orchard, a meadow, and a garden; this is now open to the public in the form of the Vatican Gardens.
- While strolling through the diverse and serene paths of the Vatican Gardens, you can identify not just Italian influences, but French and English as well.
- Italian style includes the unique geometrical designs doused with a Renaissance touch.
- While the French garden differentiates its great expression in the classic baroque art, enhanced by statues and water games, the English garden showcases numerous features with natural and artificial elements such as caves, streams, trees, pagodas, temples, and ruins.
- Besides being a visual feast, visiting the Vatican Gardens also offers a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of the everyday life of the papal state.
Your Vatican Gardens Tour Options Explained
Vatican Gardens Guided Tour with Vatican Museum Access
Your Vatican Gardens tickets offer an exclusive tour of the Vatican Gardens with skip-the-line access tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
What to Expect from Your Vatican Gardens Tour?
A Vatican Garden tour is a great way to soak in the green splendor of nature, away from the bustling city life. Once you enter the Vatican Gardens, you will witness amazing twisting paths, emerald green foliage, multi-colored flowers, and ancient sculptures that date back to medieval times. As you stroll down the garden you will see exquisitely curated mini-gardens, and a harmonious balance of trees, bushes, and flowers along shaded walkways.
While ambling down the garden, stop and marvel at the beautiful fountains that adorn the garden. Be on the lookout for the turtles that live in the fountains; they often come over for a hello! You will also catch a glimpse of the olive tree and the papyrus plant, part of the curated collection in the Vatican Gardens. The cherry on top is an impressive view of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica that you can capture from various points in the Vatican Gardens.
Vatican Gardens Highlights
- Saint John’s Tower: Enjoy some spectacular views of the gardens and the surrounding city from this medieval tower. Today, this tower space is mainly used today as papal apartments. It has also been the site for important events over the years, including Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting with former U.S. President George W. Bush in 2008.
- Fountain of the Eagle: Take a look at the fountain that represents a return of water to the Vatican from the Acqua Paola.
- The Lourdes Grotto: A replica of the pilgrimage cave in Massabielle, France, where a young girl called Bernadette Soubirous saw a vision of the Madonna.
- Papal Coat of Arms: Made from hedges, this Papal Coat of Arms features a crown and the keys of St. Peter planted in colorful perennials.
- Palazza di Leone XIII: Erected in honor of Pope Leo XIII, the building contains two fountains, green hedges, arches of climbing roses, and the last exotic tree planted by the Pope before his death in 1903.
- Images of Mary: In 1902, with the Our Lady of Lourdes the Vatican Gardens started a collection of the different images of Mary. Today, the Vatican Gardens have 17 “Maria” images, symbolizing prayers for the Virgin Mary in various languages and cultures.
- Governor’s Palace: This is the building where much of the Vatican City government is located. This palace can be found right behind St. Peter’s Basilica.
- The Gardens are also home to the Vatican heliport, train station (papal use only), and radio station (can be used by the general public).
History of Vatican Gardens In a Nutshell
- The Vatican Gardens date back to medieval times when orchards and vineyards extended north of the Papal Apostolic Palace.
- In 1279, when Pope Nicholas III in 1279 moved his residence to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace, he had the area enclosed with walls. He created an orchard, a meadow, and a garden.
- At the beginning of the 16th century, during the papacy of Julius II, the Vatican Gardens went through some remodeling. As per the original design of Donato Bramante, the Garden was divided into three new courtyards: the Cortile del Belvedere, the Library Courtyard, and the Cortile della Pigna, following a Renaissance landscape style.
- In 1921 a fire broke out inside the sanctuary of the Basilica of Loreto. A statue of the Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of Loreto, commissioned by Pope Pius XI in 1922 was destroyed.
- Since the end of 2014, the various stone artifacts in the gardens have been going through restorations and conservation.
What are the Vatican Gardens Today?
Spread over nearly 23 hectares, the Vatican Gardens is a botanical garden that is home to many medieval fortifications, buildings and monuments of the Renaissance and the Baroque, apart from vibrant flower beds and topiary, green lawns, and 3 hectares of forest. You will also find a variety of fountains, sculptures, an artificial grotto devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes, and an Olive tree donated by the government of Israel.
All Your Questions About Vatican Gardens Tours Answered
A. The availability of Vatican Guided tours is often limited. An equally convenient option is to opt for an audio guide.
A. Yes, your Vatican Gardens tour includes skip-the-line access, allowing you to bypass long waiting lines.
A. No. Not all Vatican tickets include access to the Vatican Gardens. You will have to book tickets that specifically include entry into the Vatican Gardens.
A. Yes, like most religious sites, the Vatican too has a strict dress code year-round for men and women. All visitors must have their shoulders concealed and pants/skirts must be below the knee.
A. Yes. Photography is permitted in the Vatican Gardens.