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Apostolic Palace
official residence of the Pope in Vatican City
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Apostolic Palace
official residence of the Pope in Vatican City
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cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

The Apostolic Palace or Palace of the Vatican is an embodiment of art's all time Greatest Hits.

As the world's fifth most visited museum, it's obviously a fan favorite. Today, the Vatican is the smallest state in the world and houses a collection of 54 galleries. The various galleries offer examples of almost everything: Egypt stuff, animal stuff, a floor made of masks. The last one is kind of like an averagely haunting nightmare. However, on VIP tours, visitors are treated to, among other wonders, a wooden Papal toilet. Our emails to the Vatican on whether that VIP tour includes one complimentary poop are unreturned as of publication. 

There's no shortage of tours at the Vatican. However, several galleries are available for free virtual tours on the Vatican's website. In advance of embracing the interwebs, the Vatican claimed to have been attacked by hackers trying for early access to its online art compendium. The culprits were mostly students from the United States, but included a tech-savvy Franciscan monk burning the midnight microchips (computers work on unicorn farts for all we know) to get in.

Much of the art in the Vatican, and the foundations for the Papal Palace as a museum, is the vision and vanity of a single individual: Pope Julius II. He treated pontificate rule like one part Jay-Z and two parts Frank Underwood from House of Cards. After manipulating his way to the big Papal throne, he flipped the bird at his supposed allies, purportedly shuffling out of the room while yelling, "Whatever, I do what I want!" The rest of his most Holy and Apostolic tenure is split between commissioning art from the best painters, sculptors, and architects in Europe, and donning armor to go to war against enemies of the Papal States.

Four words: Porn hot tub room. At the Vatican it's called Stuffeta della Bibbiena, because everything sounds fancier in Italian. It's rarely, if ever, opened to the public. In 1516, Cardinal Bibbiena was just tickled by all the erotic pagan works from antiquity uncovered in Rome. So he followed in the footsteps of all the greatest faith leaders with unlimited wealth and unquestionable power. He paid his buddy Raphael to paint his hot tub room with naked ladies and goat men erections. The Stuffeta frescoes unfold like a graphic novel, recounting the erotic adventures of Venus and Cupid. This bathroom has everything necessary to relax after a hard day's work saving the living souls of all humankind. Hell, there's a silver faucet in the shape of a satyr's face. Also, in one panel, the god Pan is shown with an enormous, erect peter. The erection was defaced at some point during the intervening 500 years, and replaced with a coat of simple white paint. But, the outline remains. If you're going to try and bribe the Swiss Guard into letting you see something, this is it. Just don't forget your selfie stick!

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Apostolic Palace

The Apostolic Palace (Latin: Palatium Apostolicum; Italian: Palazzo Apostolico) is the official residence of the pope, the head of the Catholic Church, located in Vatican City. It is also known as the Papal Palace, the Palace of the Vatican and the Vatican Palace. The Vatican itself refers to the building as the Palace of Sixtus V, in honor of Pope Sixtus V, who built most of the present form of the palace.

The building contains the Papal Apartments, various offices of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, private and public chapels, Vatican Museums, and the Vatican Library, including the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, and Borgia Apartment. The modern tourist can see these last and other parts of the palace, but other parts, such as the Sala Regia and Cappella Paolina, are closed to tourists. The Scala Regia can be viewed from one end but not entered.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Apostolic Palace.