Vatican City, or Città del Vaticano in Italian, is the world’s smallest sovereign state. It only consists of around 110 acres, with a population of around 800. Although Vatican City is completely surrounded by the city of Rome, it was given its independence in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Treaty. Vatican City is ruled by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. It is home to
Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the papal residency, known as the Apostolic Palace. It also issues passports and claims its own postal system, bank, newspaper, telephone system, and radio and internet service.
Since 1506, the Pope has been protected by the Swiss Guard. Vatican City, however, does not have armed forces in place and depends on the military defence of Italy. The Swiss Guard is in place to solely protect the Pope. Curious about the Swiss Guard? The Guard contains more than 100 members. All members must be male, Catholic, unmarried, have Swiss citizenship, have completed their training with the Swiss Army, be between the ages of 19-30 and be at least 175 cm in height (approximately 5 feet, 7 inches). The colourful, flamboyant uniforms they still wear today are said to have been designed by Michelangelo.
Two of the main and most important sites within the Vatican City are
Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Saint Peter’s is the largest Christian Basilica in the world, and the Vatican Museums house one of the most extensive art collections in all the world.
The Vatican Museums, known as Musei Vaticani in Italian, were founded in the early 16th century by Pope Julius II. The
museums developed and grew through the patronage of Pope Pius VI and Pope Clement XIV with them placing their artworks on display to share with the public. Other popes followed suit in donating and sharing their art collections with the public, and the museums quickly grew to be some of the greatest and most important museums throughout the world . The museum complex is made up of multiple galleries and palaces. Each space within the complex houses its own unique artwork. Throughout your visit to the museums, you will see a vast array of paintings, sculpture, statues, tapestries, mosaics, ceramics, frescoes, ancient artifacts and many, many other things. It is hard to convey how truly immeasurable the collections are. Once you make your way through the multiple galleries, you will end your journey in the famed Sistine Chapel decorated by Michelangelo. Once you exit the Sistine Chapel, you will then have the option to visit
Saint Peter’s Basilica.