first thing which comes to mind when mentioning the Vatican Gardens is
the land, on which they are laid – the home of the Catholic Church and
certainly, a grandiose “museum” with two-thousand-year history, starting
from the decline of the Empire, through the middle ages and back into the
light of the Renaissance when St. Peter's Basilica was constructed. This
is the land where early Christians were martyred and St. Peter was crucified.
V was the one who gave the idea of constructing gardens which would be
used for both the papal court ceremonies and pope’s leisure activities.
The land area was expanded and adjusted to include a pope’s residence.
Of course, popes did not always live there, but due to the presence of
Peter's grave, under what is today the main altar of the church, it has
always been the most hallowed site.
Peter’s grave has also been the cause of a 1500-years-old tradition which
originated from early Christians’ beliefs that a pilgrimage to Peter's
burial place would grant them special blessings. The journey required months
of tough travel over the Alps and down into Italy and many of the exhausted
pilgrims died while in Vatican City. For their holy burial, the German
Cemetery was founded. Today, any Catholic from a Germanic nation of the
Holy Roman Empire who dies in Rome has the right to be buried here.
of the Vatican gardens contain features inherent of Renaissance landscape
design, many of them being built in the Italian style of parterres. The
greatest of these gardens is the 16th-century Labyrinth, a great rectangular
expression of formal design set in boxwood and framed with Italian stone
pines, (Pinus pinea) and cedars of Lebanon, (Cedrus libani). Other gardens
display the best of Baroque. For example, higher on the hill is located
the French garden, a beautiful formal parterre with Baroque fountains and
arches of fragrant star jasmine, aligned to reflect the architecture of
the dome beyond. It is interesting to note that all fountains (both in
the gardens and the city) run with fresh and clean water which is safe
Vatican Gardens are definitely one of the most precious treasures the world
enjoys. And perhaps what makes them a precious masterpiece, is not only
the rare plants and outer beauty they contain. It is chiefly their fate
of being born of faith on a hallowed land.