Pope Francis opens Castel Gandolfo to public

Papal retreat to become museum from 21 October.

Castel Gandolfo, the papal residence located in the Alban hills about 25km south-east of Rome, will open to the public, according to the wishes of Pope Francis.

The private papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace, including the pope's bedroom, chapel and study, will be inaugurated as a museum by the director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, on 21 October.

Pope Francis opened Castel Gandolfo's 30-hectare gardens to the public in 2014 and last year a train tour was launched from the Vatican train station directly to the papal gardens at Castel Gandolfo.

Traditionally used by popes as a peaceful retreat to escape Rome's stifling summer heat – in particular by Francis's predecessors St John Paul II and Benedict XVI – the residence offers spectacular views over Lake Albano.

However Francis broke with tradition and has never spent a night at Castel Gandolfo – although he has visited – choosing to remain instead at his base at the Vatican’s S. Marta guesthouse.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spent several months at Castel Gandolfo, following his shock resignation in February 2013, to allow for the Mater Eclessiae monastery in the Vatican Gardens to be converted into his new home.

For information about visiting Castel Gandolfo see Vatican Museums website.