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The Vatican City is itself of great cultural significance. Buildings such as St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are home to some of the most famous art in the world, which includes works by artists such as Botticelli, Bernini and Michelangelo. The Vatican Library and the collections of the Vatican Museums are of the highest historical, scientific and cultural importance. In 1984, the Vatican was added by UNESCO to the List of World Heritage Sites; it is the only one to consist of an entire country.

The Vatican can be said to be the de facto custodian of the Latin language through its Latinitas Foundation. An important product of this foundation is the regular edition of the Latin lexicon of recent neologisms, the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis.

The permanent population of the Vatican City is predominately male, although two orders of nuns live in the Vatican. A minority are senior Catholic clergy; the remainder are members of religious orders. Many workers and embassy personnel in the Vatican City live outside its walls.

Entrance to Vatican Museum

Tourism and pilgrimages are an important factor in the daily life of the Vatican. The Pope has weekly public audiences and celebrates public Mass and other services, and imparts solemn blessings to "the City and the World" on Easter and Christmas, and immediately following his election as Pope. For significant events with large numbers of attendees, he concelebrates open-air Mass in Saint Peter's Square.

Dress code

A dress code is enforced for entry into St. Peter's Basilica. The code is based upon what is considered "modest" and "appropriate" dress for visiting a Catholic church, and tourists and visitors are reminded that, although St. Peter's is an architectural and artistic monument, it is first a place of worship and prayer. The dress code forbids:

  • hats for lay men inside the basilica
  • shorts/skirts above the knees
  • sleeveless shirts
  • shirts exposing the navel
  • shirts for women that expose cleavage
  • shirts which contain profanity
  • excessive jewellery

The use of mobile phones is also prohibited, as is smoking.

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