Posts Tagged ‘Vatican’

Who knew? Fun Facts about the Sistine Chapel

As I wrote the headline for this blog post, I chuckled. Fun facts about this famous religious structure, the Sistine Chapel? Shouldn’t I be more respectful, a bit more reverent? Actually, adding some joy and mirth helps me take something overtly intimidating and venerated and bring it down to a human, touchable, enjoyable experience.

I first visited the Sistine Chapel when I was 13. I remember my parents “dragged me” to see some church that had “famous” paintings on the ceiling. Growing up, I had red geraniums on my bedroom’s ceiling, so I thought maybe this would be amusing. I allowed the crowd of tourists to move me through the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel as I daydreamed about having great pasta for lunch.

Fast forward past a couple more attempts of awe at the splendor of the Sistine Chapel, eventually understanding the enormity and genius of the creation, and we arrive at April, 2012, where I had that OMG moment of awe.

Andrea Grisdale, Managing Director of IC Bellagio, our partner for exceptional Italian experiences, led a group of Virtuoso-affiliated Travel Advisors ( read that as extremely well-travel, hard-to-impress travel professionals) through the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel AFTER HOURS! Say good-bye to long lines and crowds and say hello to an up-close-and-personal experience.

When we entered the Sistine Chapel we were allowed to wander and take photos, with no flash (apparently a no-no according to the list below), then find a seat along the edge of the chapel. A man slowly walked to the center of the chapel, looked around the room at all of us, cleared his throat, and began to sing the Ave Maria, a Capella.

Sorry for the blurry photo! A tenor singing the Ave Maria a Capella

I was transported to some mystical world, a world where I was a fortunate noble who could enjoy listening to a talented tenor sing one of my favorite songs – just because. As I recall that moment now, I am immediately overcome with gratitude, even non-prosaic goosebumps.

The Sistine Chapel came alive! It became personal and relevant. So, in the spirit of bringing something so special to my soul, I invite you to delve into these facts!

15 Lofty Facts About the Sistine Chapel

Ciao!

The Sistine Chapel

 

Ceiling at the Sistine Chapel

 

Go Behind The Scenes At The Vatican This December


 Photograph by Ryan Hilton © 2010 Authentescapes  Exclusive photographic access arranged by order of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums.

Once In A Lifetime
Vatican Insider Tour Experience

PRIVILEGED ACCESS TO ART, ARCHITECTURE, FAITH & HISTORY

The Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums proudly introduce The Vatican Insider Tour Experience, a journey of faith and artistic grandeur offering Vatican Insiders exclusive, unprecedented access to the Vatican, including many off limits sites. Extraordinary access and special activities for Vatican Insiders are unavailable on other tours.
  

Highlights For Vatican Insiders Only

•Reserved onstage Seating near the Pope at His Wednesday Audience

•Private Viewing of Sistine Chapel after hours

•Private Vatican Holy Mass with Cardinal in Private Chapel

•Private Viewing of Vatican Secret Archives

•Private Wine Reception and Gala Candlelight Gourmet Dinner
in Vatican Museums after hours

•Private Lunch in Papal Gardens

•Unprecedented Access to Vatican's Extraordinary Artistic Treasures

•Private Lecture by Chief Restorer of Vatican Museums, Private Tour of
Restoration Laboratories and Private Viewing of Ongoing Restoration Project

•Private Transportation by Vatican Motor Coach for VIP Entry

•Front-of-Line VIP Access to Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica
   Many more elements complete this extraordinary package. 

    Join an Authentescapes group or create one of your own.

  Independent Travelers are invited to join the December 5 – 9, 2010
Vatican Insider Tour Experience. 

Pricing from $8490 per person, based on double occupancy includes the Vatican Insider Tour Experience with four nights accommodation at The St. Regis Grand Hotel, Rome with Amreican breakfast daily, ground and roundtrip airport transportation and meals stated in itinerary.

Posted via email from Travelingking

Top 10 Places YOU Can’t Go In The World

We can help you plan a vacation to almost anywhere – even Space; however, here’s a list (thanks to Listverse) of 10 place you can’t go!

Mezhgorye 10. Mezhgorye: Mezhgorye is a closed town in Russia which is believed to house people working on the highly secret Mount Yamantaw. The town was founded in 1979. Mount Yamantaw stands at 1,640 metres (5,381 ft) and is the highest mountain in the southern Urals. Along with Kosvinsky Mountain (600 km to the north), it is suspected by the United States of being a large secret nuclear facility and/or bunker. Large excavation projects have been observed by U.S. satellite imagery as recently as the late 1990s, during the time of Boris Yeltsin’s pro-Western government after the fall of the Soviet Union. Two garrisons, Beloretsk-15 and Beloretsk-16, were built on top of the facility. Repeated U.S. questions have yielded several different responses from the Russian government regarding Mount Yamantaw. They have said it is a mining site, a repository for Russian treasures, a food storage area, and a bunker for leaders in case of nuclear war.

vatican-archives2-tm9. Vatican Secret Archives:  You can view any document you wish. But you cannot enter the archive. You must submit your request for a document and it will be supplied to you. Despite the foolishness of the recent junk from Ron Howard and Dan Brown (Angels and Demons) the documents are all available and there are no copies of suppressed scientific theories or great works that were banned. The only documents you can’t access are those which are not yet 75 years old (in order to protect diplomatic and governmental information). Indexes are available for people who want to see if a document exists in the archives. The Vatican Secret Archives have been estimated to contain 52 miles (84 km) of shelving, and there are 35,000 volumes in the selective catalog alone.

Club 338. Club 33:  Contrary to popular belief, Disneyland has a full liquor license which is used when the place closes down to the general public to accommodate private parties. But there is one place in Disneyland that is always open to sell booze: Club 33. Club 33 is a private club located in the heart of the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland. Officially maintained as a secret feature of the theme park, the entrance of the club is located next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant at “33 Royal Street” with the entrance recognizable by an ornate address plate with the number 33 engraved on it. Fees for joining range from 10 – 30 thousand US dollars and membership comes with a car park. If you want to join the club, you have to go to the end of the fourteen year waiting list.

mapmetro2-tm7. Moscow Metro-2:  Metro-2 in Moscow, Russia is a purported secret underground metro system which parallels the public Moscow Metro. The system was built supposedly during (or from) the time of Stalin and codenamed D-6 by the KGB. Russian journalists have reported that the existence of Metro-2 is neither confirmed nor denied by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) or the Moscow Metro administration. The length of Metro-2 is rumored to exceed even that of the “civil” (i.e. public) Metro. (It is said to have 4 lines and lie 50 to 200 m deep. It is said to connect the Kremlin with the FSB headquarters, the government airport at Vnukovo-2, and an underground town at Ramenki, in addition to other locations of national importance. Needless to say, the fact that no one confirms its existence makes it pretty difficult to visit.

400px-whites-tm6. White’s Gentlemen’s Club:  White’s is the most exclusive English gentlemen’s club. It was founded in 1693 by Italian Francesco Bianco (Francis White) to sell the newly discovered hot chocolate but eventually became a typical (but extremely private) gentlemen’s club. The club is famous for its “betting book” in which members make bizarre gambles. The most famous of which is a 3,000 pound bet on which of two raindrops would slide down the window first. So why is this club on the list? Women are excluded completely from membership, so that is half our audience out. Secondly, men who want to join this exclusive club can only do so if invited by a sitting member who has the support of two other members. Unless you are a member of royalty, or are extremely powerful in politics or the arts, you are unlikely to ever see the exclusive White’s invitation.

800px-wfm_x51_area51_warningsign-tm5. Area 51:  I have put this so high on the list because it is the one place most readers are likely to expect to see. Area 51 is a nickname for a military base that is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles (133 km) north-northwest of downtown Las Vegas. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large secretive military airfield. The base’s primary purpose is to support development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems. The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the U.S. government barely acknowledges, has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore. The sign above states that deadly force can be used if people enter the Area 51 zone.

ob-ej709_north__g_20090903195628-tm4. Room 39:  RAF Menwith Hill is a British military base with connections to the global ECHELON spy network. The site contains an extensive satellite ground station and is a communications intercept and missile warning site and has been described as the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. The site acts as a ground station for a number of satellites operated by the US National Reconnaissance Office, on behalf of the US National Security Agency, with antennae contained in a large number of highly distinctive white radomes, and is alleged to be an element of the ECHELON system. ECHELON was reportedly created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s, but since the end of the Cold War it is believed to search also for hints of terrorist plots, drug dealers’ plans, and political and diplomatic intelligence. It has also been involved in reports of commercial espionage and is believed to filter all telephone and radio communications in the nations which host it – an extreme violation of privacy.

800px-naiku_01-tm3. Ise Grand Shrine:  The Ise Grand Shrine in Japan (which is actually a series of over 100 shrines) is the most sacred shrine in Japan. It is dedicated to Amaterasu (the Sun goddess) and has been in existence since 4BC. The main shrine is alleged to hold the most important item in Japan’s imperial history: the Naikū (the mirror from Japanese mythology which eventually ended up in the hands of the first emperors). The shrine is demolished and rebuilt every 20 years in keeping with the Shinto idea of death and rebirth (the next rebuilding will be in 2013). This ranks very high on the list of places you will never go because the only person who can enter is the priest or priestess and he must be a member of the Japanese imperial family. So unless we have a Japanese prince or princess reading the site, no one here will ever see anything more than the thatched roof of the Ise Grand Shrine.

mountweatherfema-tm2. Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center:  This is a place that is not only closed to the public, but it is a place that the public hope to never have to enter! In most “end of the world” films we see these days, there is always a highly classified area where US government officials and a chosen few get to go in the hopes that they can escape the impending doom. The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is the real thing. It was set up in the 1950s due to the cold war but continues to operate today. It is a “last hope” area. For obvious reasons its operations are highly classified. It is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The center is already functioning and even in small local disasters in the US, much of the telecommunications traffic is routed through it.

071105_menwith2_0-tm1. RAF Menwith Hill:  RAF Menwith Hill is a British military base with connections to the global ECHELON spy network. The site contains an extensive satellite ground station and is a communications intercept and missile warning site and has been described as the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. The site acts as a ground station for a number of satellites operated by the US National Reconnaissance Office, on behalf of the US National Security Agency, with antennae contained in a large number of highly distinctive white radomes, and is alleged to be an element of the ECHELON system. ECHELON was reportedly created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s, but since the end of the Cold War it is believed to search also for hints of terrorist plots, drug dealers’ plans, and political and diplomatic intelligence. It has also been involved in reports of commercial espionage and is believed to filter all telephone and radio communications in the nations which host it – an extreme violation of privacy.

AUTHOR: Jamie Frater
SOURCE: ListVerse