Is the Vatican City open during Christmas time?

Christmas time in Vatican City is a magical time, with twinkling fairy lights covering the buildings and festive music filling the streets. Many may think Christmas is a lonely time to travel, with flocks of tourists flying back home and Italian city dwellers driving out to their family’s country towns. But fear not, as visiting Vatican City within the holiday time is an unforgettable experience. Eve at the Vatican draws enormous crowds to see midnight Mass and the huge Christmas tree in the piazza, but there are religious events occurring throughout December as well.

What’s Open?

Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel

All the museums and the Sistine Chapel are closed on the 25th and 26th of December. As well as closing every Sunday throughout December and January, excluding the last Sunday of each month, when they are open and free.

St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica

These are open throughout the holidays but are restricted during Christmas day and eve. The Christmas mass restricts anyone strolling in, as it requires tickets at the door. However, the square is open toll but can be a tight squeeze as it fills up with both locals and tourists.

Unique Activities in the Holiday Season

Christmas Tree

The Vatican Christmas Tree, also known as the Saint Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, is a must-do stop on your holiday travels. Located in St. Peter’s Square, the towering tree stands directly in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica. This traditional Christmas tree started in 1982, when Polish-born Pope, John Paull II introduced the northern European sign of the Christmas tree. Since that year, it is seen as an honour to offer a tree to the Pope, with different European areas donated one every changing year. Make sure to check out the Nativity Scene that is displayed near the bottom of the tree!

Midnight Mass

Even if you aren’t a religious person, visiting Vatican City during Christmas will be a magical time. One of the most unique activities is to see the pope in real life for the Christmas mass. The Pope is the head of the Roman Catholic church and calls Vatican City his home. making the city a faithfully devoted area, offering grand religious celebrations and Christmas cheer. The holiday season in Rome truly starts with the Midnight Mass run by Pope at the Basilica of St Peter. Despite its name, the mass is actually held earlier in the evening. You must pre-book a ticket to get a seat inside, otherwise, you can watch the mass on the giant screens set up at St Peter’s Square.

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