Yes, over 800 hours! That’s a long time, for sure, but not as long as the Vatican has been around, and less time than Michelangelo spent painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, too; yet this is no less a piece of art. This huge and detailed build by Rocco Buttliere is the first to depict an entire country in a single LEGO build, which is quite the accomplishment. It helps that Vatican City is the world’s smallest country, but still, everything is here, from the enormous St. Peter’s to the Vatican Gardens, along with every other building inside Vatican City, like the local supermarket and post office.
Now, I’ve seen Rocco’s huge and detailed version of Ancient Rome (huge and detailed seems to be a running theme with Rocco, like his Forbidden City and even a shopping mall), but I’ve never been to Rome. However, I have seen many pictures of St. Peter’s Basilica and the famous square in front of it, and everyone has seen pictures of the Sistine Chapel’s interior. But this LEGO version includes so much detail, it’s like I’ve been there now. In his typical style, Rocco also gives copious information with each picture, evidence of the amount of time spent meticulously researching his subject matter.
I suppose we should start where everyone starts, at St. Peter’s Square. A ton of white trophy figures serve well as the giant statues of saints atop the columns, and on the facade of the basilica, too. Some custom printing (not stickers) adds inscriptions to the build, adding even more detailing.
Domes are notoriously difficult to capture in LEGO form, but Rocco rises to the challenge admirably with dinosaur tails and skeleton feet. Add in some lipstick held on by rubber bands, lever arms, wands, and hinge brick tops, and you have a very convincing take on St. Peter’s. Spaceship builders talk of greebling, and Baroque architects must have felt the same way, because every inch is detailed. In this particular shot, the green of the gardens behind makes it just that much more beautiful, making me appreciate Rocco’s style all the more.
Next on the tour is the Sistine Chapel, the least interesting (on the outside) building in the country. Maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but its humble exterior belies the treasure within. Impressive to me is how Rocco got all of the angles of the different buildings to line up without huge gaps, as well as factoring in the subtle changes of elevation (the Vatican is one of the hills of Rome, after all, even if not one of the official seven, since it was outside the original city’s walls).
To take you through the whole city would take several days, so I’ll skip the museums (another Michelangelo? Yawn. Raphael? Seen it! Bernini? More like Boring-ini, amiright?) and the shops, and take you to the gardens in the back, where the modern study of Botany was begun way back in something like A. D. 1200. This part of the city is filled with fountains and forests, lush gardens and art. Oh, and way back in the corner, right where some ancient walls meet, is a helipad, just in case you wanted to skip the lines and give yourself a tour. It’s not every day that you can see a whole country in such a short time.
So, do you think Rocco will build something else huge and detailed soon? Is the Pope Catholic? Check out our Rocco archives to see other huge and detailed architectural marvels if you finished the Vatican City tour still wanting more.