Pope Benedict XVI's resignation attracted a great deal of media attention, but the announcement has also made waves in the travel world. As the College of Cardinals prepares to pick a new pope, the Vatican has seen an influx of visitors. While it has long been a popular staple of Europe travel, experts anticipate that there will continue to be a growing number of people making the trip to Vatican City in the coming months, ABC News reports.
The increase in tourists heading to the Vatican started soon after Benedict XVI announced he was stepping down in early February. In fact, there was an estimated 200,000 people on hand when he gave his final address last week. Travel industry analysts have already seen a spike in the number of bookings in Rome hotels, and the number of flights booked from the United Kingdom to Italy jumped by 26 percent after the resignation.
"Right now, interest is still relatively steady since no dates have been set," industry insider Jon Gray told ABC News. "I would anticipate these numbers to be even higher once the conclave dates are known and, again, surrounding the papal inauguration."
The interest in traveling to Vatican City won't subside once the new pope is chosen, some experts say. In fact, there might be an increase in travelers in the immediate aftermath as tourists will likely want to attend Sunday mass and papal audience.
Vatican City is undoubtedly a highlight on its own, but a trip there is not complete without experiencing some of the other landmarks around Rome. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from and there are several you can work into your visit.
Many of the highlights of Rome date back centuries, and that is certainly the case with the Roman Forum, which is home to some of the most famous ruins in the city. If you find yourself in this sprawling complex, make sure you pay a visit to the Temple of Saturn. The ruins date as far back as 497 B.C., and despite being more than 2,500 years old, you can still get a sense of the striking appearance it must have had in its heyday. Other must-see spots in the Forum include the Tabularium and the Arch of Septimius Severus.
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