For centuries, Castel Gandolfo, an estate outside Rome, has served as a summer getaway for the pope. But the current pope, Francis, has eschewed the palace to stay in the city, leaving the residence unused. Now, it’s becoming a museum, according to the Catholic News Agency.
The palace has been used by popes since the 17th century, except for a brief period in 1944 when Pius XII offered it to World War II refugees. It has another claim to fame, too: several popes have taken their last breaths there. The aforementioned Pius XII died there in 1958, as did Paul IV in 1978. The gardens on the estate have been open to the public since 2014.
As part of its public opening, you can now take tours of the palace’s Swiss Hall (where the Swiss Guard keeps watch), the throne room, and the pope’s private bedroom, library, and chapel, among other previously unseen spots.
There’s a possibility that future popes will want to use the residence as a vacation spot again. Francis’s choice not to use the palace “doesn’t in any way mean the end of Castel Gandolfo as a summer residence,” a curator at the Vatican Museums, Sandro Barbagallo, told Radio Vaticana. For now, you can get your tickets from the Vatican’s online ticket office.
[h/t Catholic News Agency]
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