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Photos: Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

Last updated on: March 1, 2013 08:19 IST

Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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Pope Benedict XVI stepped down on Tuesday and as he left the papacy, he has begun his retirement in familiar surroundings -- the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, at least for the next two months.

In April, Benedict will move to a permanent residence in Mater Ecclesiae, an ex-nunnery within the ancient walls of the Vatican. But since the modest convent is under renovation, Benedict will live at Castel Gandolf on the outskirts of Rome.

Castel Gandolfo is a sumptuous villa with a spectacular view. It is adorned with landscaped gardens, an arboretum, natural conservatories, museums, fishponds and even has its own farm.

Rediff.com takes look at the grand lakeside villa, which will be Benedict's first refuge.

A calendar with a picture of Pope Benedict XVI on its cover is seen in front of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. On Thursday, the pope took a helicopter to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, where he will stay for around two months.

Castel Gandolfo has been the retreat for popes hoping to escape the heat of a Roman summer for almost 400 years.

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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The villa and gardens sprawl over 55 hectares, making the site some 11 hectares bigger than the Vatican, the world's smallest state, The Telegraph reports.

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Image: A worker looks out from the main balcony of Castel Gandolfo
Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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The gardens inside Castel Gandolf make up more than half of the estate.

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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The statue of Virgin Mary is seen inside the villa. The complex has some stunning works of religious art.

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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A sculptured garden at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo is seen in this pciture.

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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The "Chinese room" is seen inside Castel Gandolfo.

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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Oramental gardens dot the 55-hectare property.

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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Cypresses and sculptured hedges line secluded paths in the gardens.

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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Cows are seen in the farm in Castel Gandolfo. It was pope Pius XI who opened a farm, which includes cows, hens, cockerels and pontifical bees.

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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Popes are frequently known to take long walks along paths in the gadrens, which spread across the villa.

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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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The garden inside Castel Gandolfo, which was also the summer residence of Pope Benedict XVI.

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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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The statue of Saint Peter is seen in Castel Gandolfo.

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Pope Benedict XVI watches the movie "Pio XII, under the Rome's sky" at his residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, April 13, 2010.

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Photographs: Osservatore Romano/Reuters
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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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A fountain inside Castel Gandolfo. One of leading sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini's fountain adorns the the piazza facing the Apostolic Palace in the villa.

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Inside Pope Benedict's GRAND retirement home

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A view of Castel Gandolfo lake is seen from inside the villa.

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Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful from the balcony of Castel Gandolfo during one of his visits during the summers.

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Photographs: Osservatore Romano/Reuters
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