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The pope's private rooms in Castel Gandolfo

2016-12-08

For the first time in history visitors can pass through these rooms where past popes have spent their vacation time.

At the request of Pope Francis, the private rooms of the palace of Castel Gandolfo have been opened to the public.

A year ago, the second floor opened to tourists. Now, the third floor, which only the pope himself and his visitors had access to, is also welcoming tourists.

SANDRO BARBAGALLO
Vatican Museums
"These rooms are very special because they are rooms rich with history, rich in anecdotes related to the pontiffs who have passed through here, and there is also this characteristic: There is no ostentation or luxury." 

This room is undoubtably the jewel of the visit: the bedroom of the popes, whose walls ooze with stories dying to be told. For example, in this building during World War II, Pius XII hosted some 2,000 war refugees, many of them Jews.

SANDRO BARBAGALLO
Vatican Museums
"Here, in his private apartment, he has received  people with special situations, including many pregnant women. In the nine months that the pope sheltered these people, more than 40 children were born in his bed while he was away. Most of these children were given the name Eugenio, because Pius XII was named Eugenio Pacelli, and these are known as 'the sons of the pope.'"

Paul VI died in this room in 1978, and 20 years before Pius XII also died here. Also, Benedict XVI chose this place to retire after his resignation.

Another room which has never been seen by the general public is the chapel adjoining the room dominated by a large icon of Our Lady of Czestochova. It is here where the first encounter between Pope Francis and Benedict XVI took place.

Now, one is also able to visit this library where both popes spent their time that day.

It's no wonder that this magnificent palace was built with these views overlooking Lake Albano. It has served as the pope's summer residence since Urban VIII who was elected in 1626. However, not every pope has vacationed here, like Pope  Francis, many others have chosen not to use it.

SANDRO BARBAGALLO
Vatican Museums
"In the chance that Pope Francis changes his mind, I can simply remove the barriers that define the path for visitors and a few hours later the pope can come back."

However, for the meantime and 18 euros, the castle is open to those visitors who want to enjoy these wonderful rooms and exclusive access.


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