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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Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.