Scone Palace

Scone Palace, on the outskirts of Perth, holds an important place in Scotland’s long and proud history. Fifteen hundred years ago it was the capital of the Picts, and for much of the intervening period it was home to the Stone of Destiny and the crowning place of Scottish kings, including Macbeth and most famously Robert the Bruce.

Most of what you see today is the work of the Murray family who rose to become the Earls of Mansfield from 1776 to the present day.

For the shot below the sun came out to play, which unfortunately was a bit of a rare occurance during our week long stay visiting Perth and Stirling in May this year.

Scone Palace, Perth, Scotland, UK

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

St Peter’s Basilica

The original church built on the site where St Peter is supposed to be buried, dates back to AD349 during the reign of the Emperor Constantine, Rome’s first Christian Emperor. However the church we see today (easily the richest and most spectacular Church I’ve ever visited….and I’ve seen a few) was largely built during the 16th and 17th centuries. 

If the Sistine Chapel was a bit of a disappointment – see previous post – St Peter’s Basilica made up for this in spades. It is quite simply magnificent. Although, like the Vatican Museums, it attarcts a lot of tourists, because it is so vast you never really feel crammed-in and that certainly helps to create a positive impression.

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

Vatican Museums

Although they house one of the finest collections of art, sculpture and artefacts in the world, the Vatican Museums are without question a victim of their own success…….the mass of tourists certainly detracts from the experience.

No where is this more the case than in the Sistine Chapel, where frankly you would have more room in a tin of sardines, to use a well worn metaphor. Also, although everyone is supposed to be silent and no photographs are allowed inside the Chapel itself, this doesn’t deter people from chattering away and taking the odd sneaky photo on their phones……and as you can see from one image below I also succombed to the latter temptation myself.

I don’t know if it was the overall disappointing Chapel experience that has clouded my judgement (it probably is) but I actually felt slightly underwhelmed by Michelangelo’s famous ceiling. Personally I much preferred the 120m long Gallery of the Maps and the truely beautiful early 16th century apartments painted by Raphael.

If you’re visiting Rome then the Vatican Museums are really a must see, and I certainly wouldn’t want to put anyone off making a pilgrimage, because the art is spectacular. However I think it’s only fair to warn the future visitor that unless you have plenty of money and can afford to pay for one of the more exclusive out of hours tours, then you will need to prepare yourself to be carried along on a tide of humanity. Speaking of tours, I would advise pre-booking on to one of these (there are many options available). If nothing else this saves you having to navigate the incredibly busy and confusing ticket hall yourself.

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

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