Vatican City is home to infinite mysteries and conspiracy theories. Despite all the rumors, there are a few well-known and really strange things found at the Vatican. Here’s is a list of the top 10.
1Cabinet Of The Masks
The Cabinet of Masks is named for its elaborate mosaic of masks that make up its floor. The mosaics were created from pieces of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli.
Architect Alexander Dori dedicated one of the Vatican’s halls as a museum in 1772. Eight years later the hall was was completely restructured by papal architect Michelangelo Simonetti.
The hall is filled with elaborate stucco decorations to oversize paintings, but it’s the floor of the Cabinet of Masks that is the most famous. However, statues like the magnificent Three Graces also attract their share of spectators.
2Mandylion of Edessa
Legend has it that The Mandylion of Edessa is a towel on which Jesus dried his face. There are several conflicting legends in regard to the towel. As one story goes, the relic was crafted after leper and Turkish King Akbar of Edessa sent his messenger, Ananias, to Christ with a letter requesting a cure. If Ananias was unable to bring Christ back to heal the king, the king requested a portrait instead.
One in the Lord’s presence, Ananias tried to draw him, but instead was summoned to give the king a towel on which he wiped his face. The towel was left with an imprint of Christ’s face and when Ananias returned and gave the towel to the king, he was miraculously healed.
Today, the Mandylion of Edessa, which bears similarities to the Shroud of Turin, is now kept in the Matilda chapel in the Vatican Palace.
Founded by Pius VII Chiaramonti (1800-1823), the Chiaramonti Museum’s large arched ceilings serve as the backdrop for sarcophagi and several statues including the the 3,000 stone tablets and inscriptions of the Galeria Lapidaria.
The only way into this museum this is with the Vatican’s permission. So far, the Vatican has only approved access for students.
4Gallery Of The Bust
The Gallery of the Bust is an extensive collection of Roman-style statues, busts, and heads. After seeing photos of this museum, you’ll be able to tell why its on our list of weirdest Vatican items. Just imagine walking down a hall with dozens of stone eyeballs following your every move.
5The Hall of Muses
You don’t need to be an art connoisseur to appreciate artist Tommaso Conca’s paintings or the various sculptures lining The Hall of Muses which had been originally found in the Villa of Cassius near Tivoli. However, the limbless, muscular torsos might creep you out a bit.
6The Bramante Staircase
To see the Vatican’s double helix designed staircase, you may have to turn on your superstar swag and ask for the V.I.P. special. If you’re lucky, you’re eyes will be treated to the coolest staircase you’ve ever seen. The Bramante’s elaborate design was carved out of stone in the 15th century. The lucky few who are permitted to cross the red tape are sternly instructed to “look with your eyes not with your hands.” Back in the day, the Bramante used to have horses running up and down its steps. Now, it barely gets any use. It’s really a shame, it looks like it would be awesome to slide down.
7The Papal Toilet
If you embark on the Vatican’s V.I.P. tour, you’ll be treated to many strange objects featured in its museums. The vast complex is made up of over 1,200 rooms and though we’ll never know what’s behind every door, you do get a glimpse of an old papal toilet. (Score!)
As sure as we are that the entire thing was carved with the finest wood into an intricate design, the Pope taking a poop is just an image we don’t need in our minds.
8Sala degli Animali
Approximately 150 animal statues fill the Vatican’s Sala degli Animali. Dozens of animals – exsisting and mythical – line the walls of the hall. The creatures are designed so well it looks like they were alive, then just frozen in time.
Pope Gregory XVI established the Gregorian Egyptian Museum established in 1839. It is home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts.
The Popes’ interest in Egypt was connected with the fundamental role attributed to this country by the Sacred Scripture in the History of Salvation. The main museum consists of nine separate rooms with an opening that leads to the “Niche of the Fir Cone” terrace. Papyrus fragments, animal mummies, and the sacred Book of the Dead all lie within this museum full of hidden wisdom.