Vatican Historical Museum

Vatican, Vatican City State

The Vatican Historical Museum is one of the sections of the Vatican Museums. It was founded in 1973 at the behest of Pope Paul VI, and was initially hosted in environments under the Square Garden. In 1987 it was moved to the main floor of the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran and opened in March 1991.

The Vatican Historical Museum has a unique collection of portraits of the Popes from the 16th century to date, the memorable items of the Papal Military Corps of the 16-17th centuries and old religious paraphernalia related to rituals of the papacy. Also on display on the lower floor are the papamobili (Popemobiles); carriages and motorcars of Popes and Cardinals, including the first cars used by Popes.

The Lateran Palace, which is next to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran to its left within the courtyard of the church with a common entry gate, is a large apartment complex of the Pope. Domenico Fontana was the architect of this palace which was built to his design in 1586. Right at the entrance the staircase is a massive and impressive structure with the ceiling decorated with frescoes. It had been refurbished by Pope Paul IV into ten halls; each of these halls had frescoes of the Mannerist Age. The hall known as the Conciliation, and was provided with allegories related to the papacy of Sixtus V. The other halls were named Constantine, Hall of Apostles, Emperors Room, Popes Room and so forth. The fresco decorations were on themes of the History of Rome, episodes of the Bible related to Daniel, David, Solomon, Samuel and others, and also related to the Gospel. Several colourful tapestries and Goblins added to the aesthetic elegance of the halls. Before the History Museum decided to relocate here to a more luxurious locale, none of the rooms had been allowed to be used for any general public purpose. Since 1991, these rooms have been exclusively used as exhibition or display rooms for the exhibits moved from the Vatican Museums.

The museum has been arranged into two wings. The principal wing is the museum of all artistic and historic importance starting with the paintings of the history of the Papal States, portraits of Popes till date, memorabilia of the Papal Military Corps including the navy, documents related to ceremonial orders of Popes, the Papal household items, and various ceremonial regalia and religious vessels and insignia not in use.

The second wing is an annex wing on the ground floor where the papamobili are on display; these consist of decorated carriages, saddles, sedans, wagons and the first cars used by the Popes.

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Founded: 1973
Category: Museums in Vatican City State

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tamás Mihalovits (2 years ago)
Best tour of the necropolis under the vatican, super interesting archeologist guide, this was the best part of rome for me, a hidden gem tour.
Mark Wonsil (3 years ago)
Most impressive part of our trip to Rome. Our guide, Laura, was very good. The history is amazing.
Sheldon Lobo (3 years ago)
Great tour wonderful experience horrible guide..... would have been incredible with the information to support the experience provided by a good guide....we had an Italian lady very very hard to understand. But deffinately a once in a life time opportunity
E. Michael Brezina, III (3 years ago)
Best tour of my life. If you are fortunate to get in, go. Seriously: standing beneath the altar at Peter’s grave was life-changing for me. It is a moment I will NEVER forget. This is by far the best thing to do or see in Rome. And that is saying something.
Oscar Ortiz (3 years ago)
Did the Scavi tour and it was the best tour I did in Rome by far. Tour guide was very informative and had a vast knowledge of the area. A hidden treasure underneath St. Peter’s
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Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.