|State of the Vatican City
Stato della Città del Vaticano
|Anthem: "Inno e Marcia Pontificale" (Italian)
"Pontifical Anthem and March"
Location of Vatican City (green)
on the European continent (dark grey) — [Legend]
|Ethnic groups||Italians, Swiss (Swiss Guards), other |
|-||Sovereign||Pope Benedict XVI|
|-||President of the Government||Giovanni Lajolo|
|Independence||from the Kingdom of Italy|
|-||Lateran Treaty||11 February 1929|
|-||Total||0.44 km2 (233rd)
0.17 sq mi
|-||July 2009 estimate||826 (220th)|
|Currency||Euro (€) (
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|-||Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Drives on the||right[note 1]|
Vatican City /ˈvætɪkən ˈsɪti/ (help·info), officially the State of the Vatican City (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano, pronounced [ˈsta(ː)to della tʃitˈta del vatiˈka(ː)no]), is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, the capital city of Italy. It has an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres) (0.44 km2), and a population of just over 800.
Vatican City is a city-state that came into existence in 1929. It is distinct from the Holy See, which dates back to early Christianity and is the main episcopal see of 1.147 billion Latin and Eastern Catholic adherents around the globe. Ordinances of Vatican City are published in Italian; official documents of the Holy See are issued mainly in Latin. The two entities even have distinct passports: the Holy See, not being a country, only issues diplomatic and service passports; the state of Vatican City issues normal passports. In both cases the passports issued are very few.
The Lateran Treaty in 1929, which brought the city-state into existence, spoke of it as a new creation (Preamble and Article III), not as a vestige of the much larger Papal States (756-1870) that had previously encompassed central Italy. Most of this territory was absorbed into the Kingdom of Italy in 1860, and the final portion, namely the city of Rome with a small area close to it, ten years later, in 1870.
Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the bishop of Rome—the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergymen of various nationalities. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope's residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace.
The Popes have resided in the area that in 1929 became Vatican City since the return from Avignon in 1377. Previously, they resided in the Lateran Palace on the Caelian Hill on the opposite side of Rome, which site Constantine gave to Pope Miltiades in 313. The signing of the agreements that established the new state took place in the latter building, giving rise to the name of Lateran Pacts, by which they are known.
The name "Vatican" is ancient and predates Christianity, coming from the Latin Mons Vaticanus, meaning Vatican Mount. The territory of Vatican City is part of the Mons Vaticanus, and of the adjacent former Vatican Fields where St. Peter's Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel, and museums were built, along with various other buildings. The area was part of the Roman rione of Borgo until 1929. Being separated from the city, on the west bank of the Tiber river, the area was an outcrop of the city that was protected by being included within the walls of Leo IV (847–55), and later expanded by the current fortification walls, built under Paul III (1534–49), Pius IV (1559–65) and Urban VIII (1623–44). When the Lateran Treaty of 1929 that gave the state its present form was being prepared, the boundaries of the proposed territory were influenced by the fact that much of it was all but enclosed by this loop. For some tracts of the frontier, there was no wall, but the line of certain buildings supplied part of the boundary, and for a small part of the frontier a modern wall was constructed. The territory includes St. Peter's Square, distinguished from the territory of Italy only by a white line along the limit of the square, where it touches Piazza Pio XII. St. Peter's Square is reached through the Via della Conciliazione which runs from the Tiber River to St. Peter's. This grand approach was constructed by Benito Mussolini after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty.
According to the Lateran Treaty, certain properties of the Holy See that are located in Italian territory, most notably Castel Gandolfo and the major basilicas, enjoy extraterritorial status similar to that of foreign embassies. These properties, scattered all over Rome and Italy, house essential offices and institutions necessary to the character and mission of the Holy See.
Within the territory of Vatican City are the Vatican Gardens (Italian: Giardini Vaticani), which account for more than half of this territory. The gardens, established during the Renaissance and Baroque era, are decorated with fountains and sculptures.
The Pope is ex officio head of state and head of government of Vatican City, functions dependent on his primordial function as bishop of the diocese of Rome. The term Holy See refers not to the Vatican state but to the Pope's spiritual and pastoral governance, largely exercised through the Roman Curia. His official title with regard to Vatican City is Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City.
His principal subordinate government official for Vatican City is the President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, who since 1952 exercises the functions previously belonging to the Governor of Vatican City. Since 2001, the President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State also has the title of President of the Governorate of the State of Vatican City.
The current Pope is Benedict XVI, born Joseph Alois Ratzinger in Bavaria, Germany. Italian Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo serves as President of the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on 11 September 2006.
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|State Party||Holy See|
|Criteria||i, ii, iv, vi|
|Inscription||1984 (8th Session)|
|* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
In this originally uninhabited area (the ager vaticanus) on the opposite side of the Tiber from the city of Rome, Agrippina the Elder (14 BC – 18 October AD 33) drained the hill and environs and built her gardens in the early 1st century AD. Emperor Caligula (37-41) started construction of a circus (AD 40) that was later completed by Nero, the Circus Gaii et Neronis, usually called, simply, the Circus of Nero. The Vatican obelisk was originally taken by Caligula from Heliopolis, Egypt to decorate the spina of his circus and is thus its last visible remnant. This area became the site of martyrdom of many Christians after the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64. Ancient tradition holds that it was in this circus that Saint Peter was crucified upside down. Opposite the circus was a cemetery separated by the Via Cornelia. Funeral monuments and mausoleums and small tombs as well as altars to pagan gods of all kinds of polytheistic religions were constructed lasting until before the construction of the Constantinian Basilica of St. Peter's in the first half of the 4th century. Remains of this ancient necropolis were brought to light sporadically during renovations by various popes throughout the centuries increasing in frequency during the Renaissance until it was systematically excavated by orders of Pope Pius XII from 1939 to 1941.
In 326, the first church, the Constantinian basilica, was built over the site that early Roman Catholic apologists (from the first century on) as well as noted Italian archaeologists argue was the tomb of Saint Peter, buried in a common cemetery on the spot. From then on the area started to become more populated, but mostly only by dwelling houses connected with the activity of St. Peter's. A palace was constructed near the site of the basilica as early as the 5th century during the pontificate of Pope Symmachus (reigned 498–514).
Popes in their secular role gradually came to govern neighbouring regions and, through the Papal States, ruled a large portion of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid 19th century, when all of the territory of the Papal States was seized by the newly created Kingdom of Italy. For much of this time the Vatican was not the habitual residence of the Popes, but rather the Lateran Palace, and in recent centuries, the Quirinal Palace, while the residence from 1309–77 was at Avignon in France.
In 1870, the Pope's holdings were left in an uncertain situation when Rome itself was annexed by the Piedmont-led forces which had united the rest of Italy, after a nominal resistance by the papal forces. Between 1861 and 1929 the status of the Pope was referred to as the "Roman Question". They were undisturbed in their palace, and given certain recognitions by the Law of Guarantees, including the right to send and receive ambassadors. But they did not recognize the Italian king's right to rule in Rome, and they refused to leave the Vatican compound until the dispute was resolved in 1929. Other states continued to maintain international recognition of the Holy See as a sovereign entity. In practice Italy made no attempt to interfere with the Holy See within the Vatican walls. However, they confiscated church property in many other places, including, perhaps most notably, the Quirinal Palace, formerly the pope's official residence. Pope Pius IX (1846–78), the last ruler of the Papal States, claimed that after Rome was annexed he was a "Prisoner in the Vatican". This situation was resolved on 11 February 1929 between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy.
The treaty was signed by Benito Mussolini on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III and by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri for Pope Pius XI. The Lateran Treaty and the Concordat established the independent State of the Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. In 1984, a new concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified certain provisions of the earlier treaty, including the position of Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion.
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The politics of Vatican City takes place in an absolute elective monarchy, in which the head of the Roman Catholic Church takes power. The Pope exercises principal legislative, executive, and judicial power over the State of Vatican City (an entity distinct from the Holy See), which is a rare case of a non-hereditary monarchy.
Vatican City is currently one of the few countries that has not become a member of the United Nations; the Holy See is a permanent observer state.
The government of Vatican City has a unique structure. The Pope is the sovereign of the state. Legislative authority is vested in the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, a body of cardinals appointed by the Pope for five-year periods. Executive power is in the hands of the President of that commission, assisted by the General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary. The state's foreign relations are entrusted to the Holy See's Secretariat of State and diplomatic service. Nevertheless, the pope has full and absolute executive, legislative and judicial power over Vatican City. He is currently the only absolute monarch in Europe.
There are specific departments that deal with health, security, telecommunications, etc.
The Cardinal Camerlengo heads the Apostolic Chamber to which is entrusted the administration of the property and the protection of the temporal rights of the Holy See during a papal vacancy. Those of the Vatican State remain under the control of the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City. Acting with three other cardinals chosen by lot every three days, one from each order of cardinals (cardinal bishop, cardinal priest, and cardinal deacon), he in a sense performs during that period the functions of head of state. All the decisions these four cardinals take must be approved by the College of Cardinals as a whole.
The nobility that was closely associated with the Holy See at the time of the Papal States continued to be associated with the Papal Court after the loss of these territories, generally with merely nominal duties (see Papal Master of the Horse, Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, Hereditary officers of the Roman Curia, Black Nobility). They also formed the ceremonial Noble Guard. In the first decades of the existence of the Vatican City State, executive functions were entrusted to some of them, including that of Delegate for the State of Vatican City (now denominated President of the Commission for Vatican City). But with the motu proprio Pontificalis Domus of 28 March 1968, Pope Paul VI abolished the honorary positions that had continued to exist until then, such as Quartermaster General and Master of the Horse.
The State of the Vatican City, created in 1929 by the Lateran Pacts, provides the Holy See with a temporal jurisdiction and independence within a small territory. It is distinct from the Holy See. The state can thus be deemed a significant but not essential instrument of the Holy See. The Holy See itself has existed continuously as a juridical entity since Roman Imperial times and has been internationally recognized as a powerful and independent sovereign entity since late antiquity to the present, without interruption even at times when it was deprived of territory (e.g. 1870 to 1929). The Holy See has the oldest active continuous diplomatic service in the world, dating back to at least AD 325 with its legation to the Council of Nicea. Ambassadors are accredited to the Holy See, never to the Vatican City State.
Though earlier Popes recruited Swiss mercenaries as part of an army, the Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded by Pope Julius II on 22 January 1506 as the personal bodyguard of the Pope and continues to fulfil that function. It is listed in the Annuario Pontificio under "Holy See", not under "State of Vatican City". At the end of 2005, the Guard had 134 members. Recruitment is arranged by a special agreement between the Holy See and Switzerland, and is restricted to Swiss Catholic male citizens. The Palatine Guard and the Noble Guard were disbanded by Pope Paul VI in 1970. While the first body was founded as a militia at the service of the Papal States, its functions within the Vatican State, like those of the Noble Guard, were merely ceremonial.
The Corpo della Gendarmeria acts as a police force. Its full name is Corpo della Gendarmeria dello Stato della Città del Vaticano (which means "Gendarmerie Corps of the Vatican City State"), although it is sometimes referred to as Vigilanza, as a shortening of an earlier name. The Gendarmeria is responsible for public order, law enforcement, crowd and traffic control, and criminal investigations in Vatican City.
Legislative functions are delegated to the unicameral Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, led by the President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State. Its seven members are cardinals appointed by the Pope for terms of five years. Acts of the commission must be approved by the pope, through the Holy See's Secretariat of State, and before taking effect must be published in a special appendix of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. Most of the content of this appendix consists of routine executive decrees, such as approval for a new set of postage stamps.
Executive authority is delegated to the Governorate of Vatican City. The Governorate consists of the President of the Pontifical Commission — using the title "President of the Governorate of Vatican City" — a General Secretary, and a Vice General Secretary, each appointed by the pope for five year terms. Important actions of the Governorate must be confirmed by the Pontifical Commission and by the Pope through the Secretariat of State.
The Governorate oversees the central governmental functions through several departments and offices. The directors and officials of these offices are appointed by the pope for five year terms. These organs concentrate on material questions concerning the state's territory, including local security, records, transportation, and finances. The Governorate oversees a modern security and police corps, the Corpo della Gendarmeria dello Stato della Città del Vaticano.
Judicial functions are delegated to a supreme court, an appeals court, a tribunal, and a trial judge. In all cases, the pope may choose at any time to exercise supreme legislative, executive, or judicial functions in the state.
Vatican City State is a recognised national territory under international law, but it is the Holy See that conducts diplomatic relations on its behalf, in addition to the Holy See's own diplomacy, entering into international agreements in its regard. The Vatican City State thus has no diplomatic service of its own. Because of space limitations, Vatican City is one of the few countries in the world that is unable to host embassies. Foreign embassies to the Holy See are located in the city of Rome; only during the Second World War were the staff of some embassies given what hospitality was possible within the narrow confines of Vatican City — embassies such as that of the United Kingdom while Rome was held by the Axis Powers and Germany's when the Allies controlled Rome.
The size of Vatican City is thus unrelated to the large global reach exercised by the Holy See as an entity quite distinct from the state.
Vatican City, one of the European microstates, is situated on the Vatican Hill in the west-central part of Rome, several hundred metres west of the Tiber river. Its borders (3.2 kilometres / 2.0 miles in total, all within Italy) closely follow the city wall constructed to protect the Pope from outside attack. The situation is more complex at the famous Saint Peter's Square in front of St. Peter's Basilica, where the correct border is just outside the ellipse formed by Bernini's colonnade, but where police jurisdiction has been entrusted to Italy. Vatican City is the smallest sovereign state in the world at 0.44 square kilometres (44 ha; 110 acres)
The Vatican climate is the same as Rome's; a temperate, Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters from September to mid-May and hot, dry summers from May to August. There are some local features, principally mists and dews, caused by the anomalous bulk of St Peter's Basilica, the elevation, the fountains and the size of the large paved square.
In July 2007, the Vatican agreed to become the first carbon neutral state. They plan to accomplish this by offsetting carbon dioxide emissions with the creation of a Vatican Climate Forest in Hungary.
The unique, non-commercial economy is supported financially by the sale of postage stamps and tourist mementos, fees for admission to museums, and the sale of publications. Other industries include printing, the production of mosaics and the manufacture of staff uniforms.
The Vatican also conducts worldwide financial activities, having its own bank, Istituto per le Opere di Religione (also known as the Vatican Bank, and with the acronym IOR). This bank has an ATM with instructions in Latin, possibly the only such ATM in the world.
Vatican City issues its own coins. It has used the euro as its currency since 1 January 1999, owing to a special agreement with the European Union (council decision 1999/98/CE). Euro coins and notes were introduced in 1 January 2002—the Vatican does not issue euro banknotes. Issuance of euro-denominated coins is strictly limited by treaty, though somewhat more than usual is allowed in a year in which there is a change in the papacy. Because of their rarity, Vatican euro coins are highly sought by collectors. Until the adoption of the Euro, Vatican coinage and stamps were denominated in their own Vatican lira currency, which was on par with the Italian lira.
The Vatican City State, which employs nearly 2000 people, ran a deficit in 2008 of over 15 million euros, but in 2007 had a surplus of 6.7 million euros. The incomes and living standards of lay workers within the Vatican are comparable to, or somewhat better than, those of counterparts who work in the city of Rome.
Almost all of Vatican City's 900 (2008 est.) citizens either live inside the Vatican's walls or serve in the Holy See's diplomatic service in embassies (called "nunciatures"; a papal ambassador is a "nuncio") around the world. The Vatican citizenry consists almost entirely of two groups: clergy, most of whom work in the service of the Holy See, and a very few as officials of the state; and the Swiss Guard. Most of the 3,000 lay workers who comprise the majority of the Vatican workforce reside outside the Vatican and are citizens of Italy, while a few are citizens of other nations. As a result, all of the City's actual citizens are Catholic as are all the places of worship.
Vatican City has no set official language. Unlike the Holy See, which most often uses Latin for the authoritative version of its official documents, Vatican City uses Italian in its legislation and official communications. Italian is also the everyday language used by most of those who work in the state. In the Swiss Guard, German is the language used for giving commands, but the individual guards take their oath of loyalty in their own languages, German, French, Romansh or Italian. Vatican City's official website languages are Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish. (This site should not be confused with that of the Holy See, which uses all these languages, along with Portuguese, with Latin since 9 May 2008 and Chinese since 18 March 2009.)
Unlike citizenship of other states, which is based either on ius sanguinis (birth from a citizen, even outside the state's territory) or on ius soli (birth within the territory of the state), citizenship of Vatican City is granted iure officii, namely on the grounds of appointment to work in a certain capacity in the service of the Holy See. It usually ceases upon cessation of the appointment. Citizenship is extended also to the spouse, parents and descendants of a citizen, provided they are living with the person who is a citizen.
Anyone who on loss of Vatican citizenship possesses, as judged by Italian law, no other citizenship automatically becomes an Italian citizen.
As of 31 December 2005, there were, apart from the Pope himself, 557 people with Vatican citizenship, while there were 246 residents in the state who did not have its citizenship.
Of the 557, 80% were clergy:.
Vatican City is home to some of the most famous art in the world. St. Peter's Basilica, whose successive architects include Bramante, Michelangelo, Giacomo della Porta, Maderno and Bernini is a renowned work of Renaissance architecture. The Sistine Chapel is famous for its frescos, which include works by Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Botticelli as well as the ceiling and Last Judgement by Michelangelo. Artists who decorated th interiors of the Vatican include Raphael and Fra Angelico. 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 state. Furthermore, it is the only site to date registered with the UNESCO as a centre containing monuments in the "International Register of Cultural Property under Special Protection" according to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
In accordance with Article 22 of the 1929 Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and Italy, the Italian government, when requested by the Holy See, handles the prosecution and detention of criminal suspects, at the expense of the Vatican. In 1969, the Vatican state abolished capital punishment, which was envisaged in the legislation it adopted in 1929 on the basis of Italian law, but which it never exercised.
Vatican City has a reasonably well developed transport network considering its size. As a country that is 1.05 kilometres (0.6 mi) long and .85 kilometres (0.5 mi) wide, it has a small transportation system with no airports or highways. There is one heliport and a standard gauge railway connected to Italy's network at Rome's Saint Peter's station by an 852 metres (932 yd) long spur, only 300 metres (328 yd) of which is within Vatican territory. Pope John XXIII was the first Pope to make use of this railway, and Pope John Paul II used it as well, albeit very rarely. The railway is mainly used to transport freight. As Vatican City has no airports (it is one of the few independent states in the world without one), it is served by the airports that serve the city of Rome, within which the Vatican is located, namely: Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport and to a lesser extent, Ciampino Airport, which both serve as the departure gateway for the Pope's international visits.
The City is served by an independent, modern telephone system, the Vatican Pharmacy, and post office. The postal system was founded on 11 February 1929, and two days later became operational. On 1 August, the state started to release its own postal stamps, under the authority of the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican City State. The City's postal service is sometimes recognised as "the best in the world" and mail has been noted to get to its target before the postal service in Rome.
The Vatican also controls its own Internet TLD, which is registered as (.va). Broadband service is widely provided within Vatican City. Vatican City has also been given a radio ITU prefix, HV, and this is sometimes used by amateur radio operators.
Vatican Radio, which was organised by Guglielmo Marconi, broadcasts on short-wave, medium-wave and FM frequencies and on the Internet. Its main transmission antennae are located in Italian territory. Television services are provided through another entity, the Vatican Television Center.
L'Osservatore Romano is the multilingual semi-official newspaper of the Holy See. It is published by a private corporation under the direction of Roman Catholic laymen but reports on official information. However, the official texts of documents are in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official gazette of the Holy See, which has an appendix for documents of the Vatican City State.
Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Center, and L'Osservatore Romano are organs not of the Vatican State but of the Holy See, and are listed as such in the Annuario Pontificio, which places them in the section "Institutions linked with the Holy See", ahead of the sections on the Holy See's diplomatic service abroad and the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, after which is placed the section on the State of Vatican City.
The Vatican doesnt have any sport legues or stadiums. The Vatican does have a National Football team. The Vatican City squad consists of the Swiss Guards (voluntary military force drawn from male Swiss citizens), members of the Papal council, and museum guards (Italian citizens). Since only members of the Swiss Guard can get the citizenship of the Vatican and they cannot be amassed in large numbers for a long time, the national team can play only a few rare international matches, often drawing a fair amount of interested press. The Vatican National team plays at Stadio Pio XII in Italy.
|Head coach|| Gianfranco Guadagnoli
(as of 2002)
|Home stadium||Stadio Pio XII|
| Vatican City 0-0 Monaco
Rome, Italy; 23 November 2002
| Vatican City 3-0 NIR
Rome, Italy; 18 June 2007
|Part of a series on the|
|Pope – Pope Benedict XVI|
|College of Cardinals – Holy See|
|Episcopal polity · Latin Rite|
|Eastern Catholic Churches|
|History · Christianity|
|Catholicism · Apostolic Succession|
|Four Marks of the Church|
|Crucifixion & Resurrection of Jesus|
|Ascension · Assumption of Mary|
|Criticism of the Catholic Church|
|Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)|
|Theology · Apologetics|
|Divine Grace · Sacraments|
|Purgatory · Salvation|
|Original sin · Saints · Dogma|
|Virgin Mary · Mariology|
|Immaculate Conception of Mary|
|Liturgy and Worship|
|Roman Catholic Liturgy|
|Eucharist · Liturgy of the Hours|
|Liturgical Year · Biblical Canon|
|Roman · Armenian · Alexandrian|
|Byzantine · Antiochian · East Syrian|
|Ecumenism · Monasticism|
|Prayer · Music · Art|
|Government||Theocracy/ elective monarchy|
|Area||0.44 sq km|
|Population||821 (July 2007 est.)|
|Language||Latin (official), Italian (official)|
|Religion||Roman Catholic (100% and official)|
|Electricity||230V/50Hz (European or Italian plug)|
|Time Zone||UTC +1|
Perhaps the Vatican needs no introduction. The center of Catholicism, and encompassing the Vatican City state, as well as the surrounding Roman neighborhoods of the Vaticano, Prati, and Monte Mario, this small slice of the city is packed with more history and artwork than most cities in the world.
Vatican City (Citta del Vaticano), also incorrectly known as but popularly synonymous with the Holy See (Santa Sede), is the latest and only current Papal state in existence and the temporal seat of the Pope, head of the worldwide Catholic Church. Situated within the city of Rome in Italy, the Vatican is the world's smallest state. Outside the Vatican City itself, 13 buildings in Rome and Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence, also enjoy extraterritorial rights. On April 19, 2005, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI.
The origin of the Papal States, which over the years have varied considerably in extent, may be traced back to AD 756 with the Donation of Pepin. However the popes were the de facto rulers of Rome and the surrounding province since the fall of the Roman Empire and the retreat of Byzantine power in Italy. Popes in their secular role ruled portions of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid 19th century, when many of the Papal States were seized by the newly united Kingdom of Italy. In 1870, the pope's holdings were further circumscribed when Rome itself was annexed.
Disputes between a series of "prisoner" popes and Italy were resolved in 1929 by three Lateran Treaties, which established the independent state of Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. On 11 February 1929, three treaties were signed with Italy which, among other things, recognized the full sovereignty of the Vatican and established its territorial extent.
In 1984, a concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified certain of the earlier treaty provisions, including the primacy of Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion.
The pope is elected for life by the College of Cardinals. When the election was last held (Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Benedict XVI), it attracted large crowds. Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor Pope John Paul II's Inauguration Day (he was never crowned) of 22 October 1978 was also a major event.
Present concerns of the Holy See include interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, and the application of church doctrine in an era of rapid change and globalization. About 1 billion people worldwide profess the Catholic faith.
The Vatican sits on a low hill between 19 m and 75 m above sea level. With a boundary only 3.2 km around, the enclosed land area is smaller than some shopping malls. However the buildings are far more historic and architecturally interesting.
Although 1000 people live within Vatican City, many dignitaries, priests, nuns, guards, and 3,000 lay workers live outside the Vatican. Officially, there are about 800 citizens making it the smallest nation in demographic size on the globe. The Vatican even fields a soccer team composed of the Swiss Guard who hold dual citizenship.
It's easy to get to the Vatican by taxi, bus or by foot from Rome—the closest neighborhood on the other side of the Tiber being Navona. Take the Metro line A to Cipro for the Museums, or Ottaviano for St. Peter's, or the tram to Piazza del Risorgimento.
From Central Rome, the #64 bus goes right to the southern end of the Vatican, but it is filled with pickpockets, guard your valuables! :) !
With a little more than 100 acres (less than half a square kilometer) within its walls, the Vatican is easily traveled by foot; however, most of this area is inaccessible to tourists. The most popular areas open to tourists are the Basilica of St. Peter and the Vatican Museums.
If you're heading up Monte Mario, wear comfortable shoes—it's quite a climb!
Latin enthusiasts rejoice! There is one country in the world that holds Latin (in addition to Italian) as its official language, and you can indeed get by within the city state only using the "dead" language. Italian, however, remains the more useful of the two. English is widely spoken here, as are most major languages of the world—this is the Vatican, a city for the world's Catholics and all who wish to see St. Peter's Basilica.
Swiss Guards Corps (Corpo della Guardia Svizzera) Swiss Papal Guards are posted at entrances to the Vatican City to provide security and protect the Pope. They wear very colourful clothing, similar to the clothing of court jesters; winter palette of clothing differs from summer palette. Actually, the design is attributed to Michelangelo or Raphael. The Pontifical Swiss Guards is also the smallest and oldest standing army in the world founded in 1506 by the warrior pope Julius II (the same pope who kick started the construction of this 'new' basilica and making Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel). The origins of the Swiss guards, however, go much further. The popes, as well as a lot of European rulers, regularly imported Swiss mercenaries since the 1400's. Swiss mercenaries were a major export of Switzerland before they started making watches.
The centre of the Catholic world, this magnificent basilica with its Michelangelo designed dome has an awe-inspiring interior. This place is huge, but everything is in such proportion that the scale escapes you. To give you a comparison, you can fit the Statue of Liberty, statue and pedestal (height from ground of pedestal to torch: 93m), underneath the dome (interior height of 120m from floor to top of dome) with room to spare.
To get in, you will first go through a metal detector (after all,this is an important building). Don't be put off if there is a long line in front of the detectors; the whole thing moves quickly. The line is usually shorter in the morning and during mid week.
Aside from going inside, you can take an elevator up to the roof and then make a long climb up 323 steps to the top of the dome for a spectacular view. It costs €7 for the elevator (€5 to climb the stairs) and allow an hour to go up and down. During the climb and before reaching the very top, you will find yourself standing on the inside of the dome, looking down into the Basilica itself. Be warned that there are a lot of stairs so it is not for the faint at heart (literally or figuratively) nor the claustrophobic as the very last section of the ascent is through a little more than shoulder-width spiral staircase. Instead of leaving out the doors you came in, go down into the crypt to see the tomb of Pope John Paul II, the crypt leaves out the front.
Note: A strict dress code is enforced (as in many other houses of worship), so have shoulders covered, wear trousers or a not-too-short dress, and take your hats off (which is the custom in churches in Europe, women must wear scarves or some thing to cover their heads. You might be required to check bags at the entrance. Photos are allowed to be taken inside, but not with a flash. The lack of light will probably cause your pictures not to turn out very well, so you may want to buy a few postcards to keep as souvenirs.
The basilica is open daily April to September 9AM-7PM and October to March 9AM-6PM; closed Wednesday mornings for papal audiences.
Daily mass at 8:30AM, 10AM, 11AM, 12PM, & 5PM Monday to Saturday, and Sundays & holidays at 8:30AM, 10:30AM, 11:30AM, 12:10AM, 1PM, 4PM, & 5:30PM.
Free 90 minute tours leave daily from the Tourist Information at 2:15PM, many days also at 3PM. Telephone: 06-6988-1662. €5 audio-guides can be rented from the checkroom.
Tours are the only way to see the Vatican Gardens, €12, book at least a day in advance by calling 06-6988-4676, Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday at 10AM, depart from tour desk and finish in St. Peter's Square. To tour the Necropolis and Saint's Tomb, call the excavations office at least a week in advance at 06-6988-5318, €10 for 2 hour tour, office open Monday to Saturday 9AM-5PM.
If you want to see the pope, you can either see a usual blessing from his apartment at noon on Sunday, just show up (but in the summer he gives it from his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, 25 miles from Rome) or you can go to the more formal Wednesday appearance. The pope arrives in the popemobile at 10:30AM to bless crowds from a balcony or platform, except in winter, when he speaks in the Aula Paola VI Auditorium next to the square. You can easily watch from a distance, or get a free ticket, which you must get on the Tuesday before. There are a number of ways:
The pope may occasionally be away on a state visit, however.
The Piazza di San Pietro is actually an ellipse. There are two stones (one on each side of the square) between the obelisk and the fountains. If you step on either of these stones, the four columns on the colonnades merge into one. The fountains were made by two different architects, Maderno and Bernini.
The obelisk in the middle of the square was transported from Egypt to Rome in 37 A.D. by the Emperor Gaius Caligula to mark the spine of a circus eventually completed by the Emperor Nero. The so-called Circus of Nero was parallel to and to the south of the east-west axis of the current Basilica. It was in this circus that St. Peter was killed in the first official persecutions of Christians undertaken by Nero beginning in 64 A.D. and continuing until his death in 67 A.D. The original location of the obelisk is marked with a plaque located near the sacristy on the south side of the Basilica, where it remained until it was moved in 1586 A.D. by Pope Sixtus V to its present location.
During the Middle Ages, the bronze ball on top of the obelisk was believed to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar. When it was relocated, the present reliquary, the Chigi Star in honor of Pope Alexander VII, was added containing pieces of the True Cross. This is the only obelisk in Rome that never toppled since it was placed in ancient Rome and is the second largest Egyptian obelisk after the Lateran obelisk. This celebrated obelisk nearly shattered while it was being moved. Upon orders of the pope, no one was to speak a word otherwise he would be excommunicated. However, a sailor shouted to water the ropes to prevent them from burning. He was forgiven and in gratitude for saving the day, the palms for Palm Sunday still come from the sailor's home town of Bordighera. The moving of this obelisk was celebrated in engravings during its time to commemorate the Renaissance's recovery and mastery of ancient knowledge.
 One of the greatest art galleries in the world, the museum is most famous for its spiral staircase, the Raphael Rooms and the exquisitely decorated Sistine Chapel famous for Michelangelo's frescos. It's organized so you follow a one-way route. Price: €14 for visitors, €8.00 for concessions. Open March to October Monday to Friday 8:45AM-4:45PM, Saturday 8:45AM-1:45PM, November to February Monday to Saturday 8:45AM-1:45PM, closed Sunday except last Sunday of the month, when its free, crowded, and open 8:45AM-1:45PM. Last entry 90 minutes before closing time, Sistine Chapel closes before rest of museum does. The museum is closed for holidays on: January 1 & 6, February 11, March 19, April 8 & 9, May 1 & 17, June 15 & 29, August 15 and either 14 or 16, November 1, and December 8, 25, & 26.
The Museum is usually the most hot & crowded Saturday, Monday, the last Sunday of the month, rainy days, and days before or after a holiday. Dress code: no short shorts or bare shoulders. Telephone: 06-6988-4947. There are often lengthy queues from the entrance that stretch around the block in the early morning. Non-guided visitors should join the queue that is to the left as you are facing the entrance; the queue on the right is intended for guided group visitors. Two hour English tours cost €21.50 and includes museum admission, and leave at 10:30AM, 12PM, & 2PM in summer, 10:30AM & 11:15AM in winter. To reserve, fax 06-6988-4019 up to 15 days in advance, include name, return fax number, names of those in your party, children's ages, language, and several date options. With a booking you skip the queue and enter through the exit, next to entry, to go to the guided tours desk. There are also audio-guides available from the top of the escalator/ramp for €7. Two people to share a single unit plugging in a standard set of earphones.
Accessing the Sistine Chapel requires walking through many other (spectacular) halls and buildings (including the Raphael's Rooms) and it takes about an hour. Note that although the Museum is quite large, no free map is available - you must bring your own, or purchase a guidebook in the shop for €10 or more.
Also, be aware that it is not allowed to take pictures or talk loudly in the Sistine Chapel. While one may agree with this policy or not, the visit would be a much more pleasant one without the guards having to yell out Shh! or No foto e no video!! every two minutes. The bottom line is: respect the rules and let every visitor enjoy the best of the experience. If you try to sneak a picture (like most people do), you'll get a bad photograph and a screaming guard as your reward.
The two main entrances to Vatican City for tourists are A) the Vatican Museums, accessible from Viale Vaticano on the North side of the city state and B) St. Peter's Basilica, on the Southeast side of the city and accessible from Via della Conciliazione. While St. Peter's Basilica is open all day long, the Vatican Museum entrance does close at 3:30PM on weekdays and 12:20PM on Saturdays, so it is a good idea to first visit the museums and then the church.
While guidebooks do their best to provide an aid for viewing the collections inside the Vatican, a guided tour is a far better way to make sure you get the most out of your visit.
Beware of a "sweet & kind" Australian woman advertising tours right at the top of the Vatican metro exit. Her company's tour is over priced (at 45 euro), the guide speaks incomprehensible English, and the audio equipment is very low quality. They do not offer refunds.
Guided tours are provided by the Vatican itself for the cost of 30.00 Euro. These may be requested in advance by fax from one month to one week before the requested tour date, or online from two months before the requested tour date. The Vatican is notorious for failing to reply via fax, and repeat requests are often necessary. Full details on booking such tours are available at 
The Vatican has a unique, noncommercial economy that is supported financially by contributions (known as Peter's Pence) from Roman Catholics throughout the world. It also sells postage stamps, tourist mementos, and publications. Fees for admission to museums also go into church coffers.
The Euro is the official currency of the Vatican City. The Vatican Euro is the rarest in circulation among the European countries, so don't spend it! It is worth a lot more than its face value.
The Vatican is the only country in the world where ATM instructions are in Latin.
The Vatican Museums have a reasonable cafeteria style restaurant, a bar, and a pizzeria, all of which are open during museum opening hours, and until about one hour after closing. See also Rome.
Seasoned travelers will know how to tip, and how to ask for the price at the counter, instead of buying at the over-rated 'sit-down' full-price,. Better to tip, and be wellcome again the next, or the next, day, than rediculing everyone by paying triple or at least double,.
Coffee in the morning (un caffè, per favore!, grazie!), mineral water for lunch (gassata/non-gassata? or frizzante/fizzante), and try to find rosé wine in the evening: it goes very well with all Italian traditional dishes, and keeps one and one's company fresh and summery. Care and solid experience is advised when arriving from colder climates, to absorb the many new, ever so pleasant, enviroments and tastes, and the delicates of balancing wine and water, with creamy sauces and vinegars.
Unless you count the Pope as a good friend (and he concurs), there are no lodging opportunities in the Vatican City itself. However, there are many hotels in the surrounding Vaticano neighborhood of Rome.
Mail a letter - Since Vatican City is a separate country, it also has its own postal system, which is generally considered to be a bit more reliable than that of Italy. Send a postcard to your friends and it will be postmarked from Vatican City.
Since Vatican City is a Papal state, such respect and reverence to the Roman Catholic Church and its practices and doctrine is encouraged.
Sleeveless shirts and short pants or skirts are not permitted within the border of the Vatican.
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|Anthem: Inno e Marcia Pontificale|
|[[File:|290px|Location of Vatican City]]|
|Capital|| Vatican City|
|Largest city||Vatican City|
|Government|| Absolute monarchy|
Pope Benedict XVI
Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone
| Lateran Treaty|
11 February 1929
• Water (%)
0.44 km² (194th)
• 2005 est.
|Currency|| Euro (|
| Time zone|
• Summer (DST)
| CET (UTC+1)|
|Calling code|| |
The Vatican City is the smallest country in the world (0.44 km²) and it is an enclave of Italy because it is surrounded by the city of Rome. It was created as country on February 11 1929, with the "Patti Lateranensi" (Lateran Agreement or Treaty), was signed by Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI. It is very small, but very important because it is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Head of State is the Pope, now Benedict XVI, former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, elected on April 19 2005, after Pope John Paul II's 26 years of Papacy. It is also important for its culture and art. The Vatican's masterpieces are known by everybody in the world: St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and the Apostolic Palace, where the Pope lives. There are also hundreds of other sculptures and pictures.
The Pope used to rule the Papal States. This used to cover all of Central Italy. Popes had always tried to stop Italy becoming one country because they might lose their control of the Papal States. In 1861 Italy was unified under the King of Savoy, but Rome and Latium remained unconquered. Only on September 20 1870 the Italian troops invaded and beat the Papal troops. Rome became capital of the new kingdom.
In 1929 Benito Mussolini decided to sign an agreement with the Holy See, called the Lateran Treaty, which created the Vatican State. Another treaty gave the Vatican money each year to compensate for the lost territories.
Saint Peter's Square from the dome
St. Peter's square seen from the basilica.
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