The Vatican City State is the smallest Independent state both for size, indeed it covers only 44 hectares, and for the number of the citizens.
Vatican City has a population of approximately 800 people, although half of these live abroad, being diplomatic representatives of the state. The Vatican is situated to the right of the Tiber river, upland on the Vatican Hill, where in Ancient Rome villas once stood. Between 324 and 326 the Emperor Costantino had a grand Basilica built on the Colle Vaticano, which was replaced with the current building in the 15th-16th centuries. The construction of the Basilica passed through the hands of many artists under many different projects during the course of many years, earning it the nickname "St. Peter's factory". The Vatican State was officially recognized in 1929 on the signing of the Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Holy See. The form of government is absolute monarchy, administrated by the Pope, who resides in the Apostolic Palace.
The Catholic Church runs its evangelical missions from its central offices in Vatican City as well as the churches across its territory. Vatican City has its own flag, national anthem and car registration plates. It has been part of the EU since 2000, and its currency is the euro.
The Vatican also has its own defense force, the Swiss Guard, which ensures the security of the state and the Pope. It is an order founded in 1506, whose picturesque uniforms were designed by Michelangelo. Vatican City holds within its walls an immeasurable artistic wealth. The public can visit Saint Peter's Basilica, the museums and gardens. Bernini, Michelangelo and Raffaele are among the artists who contributed to the Holy See's most well-known monument, the Sistine Chapel. Not all of the Holy See's buildings are to be found within the walls of the Vatican. One of the oldest and well-known is the Villa of Castel Gandolfo in the peripheral area of the same name, a few kilometers outside of the city of Rome. It is a complex of villas constructed by Domitian in the first century AD.
A vacation in Rome is not complete if you haven't visited the Vatican Museums and the marvellous Sistine Chapel. If you want to know more about this enormous museum and the exhibited art works take advantage of our guided tours. For more take a look at the tour: Visit Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter's Basilica
A place of relax and reflection for the pontiff from the 13th century, the garden saw a huge period of growth and development in the 1500s and 1600s, through the work of important artists such as Bramante.
Along with the stupendous Sistine Chapel, visitors can admire the Raffaele rooms, the Vatican art gallery, the Egyptian and Etruscan museums.
This castle has been used for many things through the years from mausoleum to apostolic seat, to military fort, to prison.
Designed by Bernini in the mid-1600s it represents two arms which welcome the pilgrims who enter the square. Before the development of the Villa della Conciliazione the faithful had to cross the small streets of the area in order to reach the square.
The frescoes in the Sistine Chapel were commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV to Michelangelo, who created them largely by himself between 1508 and 1541. The frescoes cover the vault and the back wall where Michelangelo created the Last Judgment.