Papal vacation residence opens to tourists

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image copyrightReuters
image captionTourists now have a rare opportunity to peek inside the papal bedroom. This room has served more than 15 popes over the centuries - Popes Pius XII and Paul VI died here and John Paul II recovered from an assassination attempt in the same room in 1981 - but has been spurned by Pope Francis. Forty children were also born in this bedroom when the villa housed refugees during World War II.
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image captionThe marble-floored estate was acquired by the Vatican in 1596. The first pope to use it as a summer residence was Urban VIII in the 17th Century.
image copyrightReuters
image captionThe Pope's private office in Castel Gandolfo. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013, was the last pontiff to use the villa as a summer residence.
image copyrightReuters
image captionPope Francis has renounced the luxuries of the villa just as he refused to move into the sumptuous Vatican apartment and, instead, opted to live in a modest hotel.
image copyrightEPA
image captionA private chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa is one of 20 rooms in the private apartment. Tourists usually came to Castel Gandolfo to receive blessings from the Pope when the papal court moved to the residence for months at a time.
image copyrightEPA
image captionA view of the gallery of Alexander VII - one of seven large rooms that house the papal portrait galleries and artefacts.
image copyrightEPA
image captionThe hilltop residence overlooks Lake Albano. The apartments are the final parts of the villa to be opened to the public over the past two years after visitors were allowed to tour the estate's gardens in 2014.
image copyrightEPA
image captionThe summer residence in Castel Gandolfo was opened to the public at the request of Pope Francis but some residents hope the decision will be reversed in future. "We fear it will be a tombstone for us if future popes follow his example," said the mayor of Castel Gandolfo, Milvia Monachesi.

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