WOOF, is the Vatican City dog-friendly? Wanna take your dog to the magnificent Vatican City or St. Peter’s Basilica? Sniff out what you need to know before you go!
The first time I set my furry alpha paws in Rome, I was hooked by this Top Dog city. Dog, Rome is truly something to sniff out, and I keep coming back for deeper, longer sniffs. It’s not only the capital city of Italy but also the “cradle” of Western civilization – meaning it has been around the block for a very long time! Its 2,773+ years of greatness is ARF-mazing, even recognized by a Top Dog like myself. When in Rome, I like to keep my wet nose busy with ancient Roman ruins and stuff my little Yorkie mouth with some air-bubbled Roman-style pizzas. And, every single time I’ve set my furry paws in Rome, I make sure I get a sniff or two of the Vatican City, home to the Pope and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.
A city-state entirely surrounded by Rome, the Vatican City is technically its own country with the Pope as the head, ruler, leader, etc. – even with a total area of 109 acres and a tiny pawpulation of 825 people. ARF-my-DOG, the Vatican City isn’t just a city – it’s a sovereign state! Although they never had independent armed forces, the Vatican City does possess 135 guards to protect the Pope and the Apolistic Palace, including the Pontifical Swiss Guard, the Noble Guard, the Palatine Guard, and the Papal Gendarmerie Corps. From the stunning Saint Peter’s Square to Michelangelo’s renowned Sistine Chapel ceiling to the Renaissance frescoes in the Raphael Rooms, the Vatican City boasts masterpiece after masterpiece – to bark the least.
Now, is the Vatican City dog-friendly? Are dogs allowed inside the Vatican City?
The REAL Bark: YES and NO. Dogs are allowed in parts of the Vatican City!
YES: Dogs are allowed to explore part of the magnificent exterior grounds of the Vatican City. The good news is that you don’t need to pay to enter the grounds of the Vatican City – you can simply walk right over from Rome. No passport, visa, or tickets are needed. WOOF-HOO! Yep, that’s right – I can march on in with an upright tail and tilt my head to centuries-old architecture, including the Gian Lorenzo Bernini-designed St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica with the dome designed by Michelangelo. This pawsome 16th-century Basilica is spread over an impressive 23,000-square-feet of land. With that barked, tickets are needed if you want to enter the Vatican museums, including the Sistine Chapel, another ARF-so-famous masterpiece by Michelangelo.
NO: GRRR, dogs are NOT allowed inside St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museums, unfortunately. Just a quick bark that tickets are not needed to enter the Renaissance-style basilica, which is believed to be the burial site of the first Pope St. Peter and is considered the GREATEST church in the Christian world. A TOP DOG church. A church of all churches! But, sadly, dogs are NOT allowed inside places of worship and indoor museums (the only pawssible exception is E.U.-recognized service dogs). The Vatican museums do require tickets for entry, but the same goes – no dogs are allowed inside. Double GRRR GRRR.
Dogs are also NOT allowed inside the official residence of the reigning Pope, which is the Apostolic Palace (also known as the Papal Palace and Vatican Palace). It’s located northeast of St. Peter’s Basilica and next to the Bastion of Nicholas V and the Palace of Gregory XIII. There are over 1,000 rooms inside, including several Papal Apartments, the Vatican museums (ARF course, the Sistine Chapel, and Raphael Rooms), the Vatican Library, and governmental offices. And, don’t even think about exploring the 57-acre Renaissance Vatican Gardens (Giardini Vaticani) with your dog! These lush gardens filled with monuments and botanicals have a limited-entry policy, which means not all humans are even allowed (let alone dogs).
AWOOOO, this means that if you plan on sniffing out the interior of the Basilica, Raphael Rooms, Clementine Hall, and Sistine Chapel, you must leave your dog back at the hotel. Visiting museums can be an all-day affair, so plan accordingly and be sure to walk your dog beforehand. BUT if you’re OK with only sniffing the outside grounds and dropping your jaws to the Renaissance-Baroque facades (and not going inside), then taking your dog is no pawblem at all!
What to Sniff Out with Your Dog at The Vatican City…
The Greek-style St. Peter’s Square is the large open area where St. Peter’s Basilica resides. Adorned with immaculate Corinthian columns and sculptures of Jesus’ apostles, the Basilica’s facade is 118.6 meters wide and 48 meters high, built by architect Carlo Maderno. It also boasts two grand statues of St. Peter and St. Paul at the entrance. The setting is absolutely pawfect for a selfie with your dog! BUT keep in mind that the Vatican City is an international destination with tens and thousands of tourists coming through daily, meaning it’s best to get a shot farther away from the crowd for your dog’s comfort and safety. Plus, the farther you stand from the buildings, the bigger and better of a shot you get of these architectural masterpieces.
The elongated oval piazza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica is one sniff-worthy spot. ARF-ter all, it was created by Bernini way back in the 1600s. Initially designed to accommodate masses of people, St. Peter’s Square is one of the biggest public venues in the world, holding up to whoppin’ 3 million people and measuring 320 meters X 240 meters. The ARF-mazing colonnades bordering the square feature 140 saints on top. The square also boasts spectacular, IG-worthy fountains created by Bernini and Maderno (hence, the names Bernini Fountain and Maderno Fountain). In 1641, Maderno redesigned the square and its fountain in addition to the new facade of the Basilica. Although he did not change the position of the fountain, he replaced the top basin with an upside-down cup from which the water drains into a bigger bowl. Then in 1657, the colonnades designed by Bernini created a huge pawblem with the first fountain’s position in the square. Therefore, he ended up adding the second fountain to reestablish the square’s symmetry. These sniff-worthy fountains are found at the center (Bernini) and south side (Maderno) of the square.
There are five bronze doors leading to the Atrium of the Basilica, and no joke – they all sound supaw scary! WOOF, Door of death, Door of Good and Evil, Central Door, Door of Sacraments, and most impawtantly, Holy Door (which is the most sacred of all). But again, it can get crowded at the Vatican City – unless you can get here early to avoid the crowd, it may be a bit overwhelming for your dog to set his furry paws there.
When is the BEST time to visit the Vatican City with Your Dog?
Earlier in the morning, bark at 8:30 am or before! You’ll want to get there before the crowds show up. Alternatively, you can visit later in the evening ARF-ter the crowds depart. The Vatican museums typically open from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, which means anytime outside this window would be less congested for your dog to visit. Do keep in mind that St. Peter’s Square closes at 11 pm, so don’t show up too late! Also, visiting on an off weekday like Tuesday or Wednesday will help your dog stay away from the crowd.
WOOF, hope you enjoy markin’ up the Vatican City with your dog! Feel free to share your dog-friendly Vatican City experience with me. BARK AT ME!
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Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob