The Apostolic Palace

The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the reigning pope. The palace is located in Vatican City; North-East of St. Peter’s Basilica and next to the Bastion of Nicholas V and the Palace of Gregory XIII. The Apostolic Palace is also referred to as the Vatican Palace, the Papal Palace, the Sacred Palace and also the Palace of the Vatican. The construction of the current Apostolic Palace started on the 30th of April 1589 during the reign of Pope Sixtus V and it was completed by his successors Pope Urban VII, Pope Innocent XI and Pope Clement VIII.

Originally, the person in charge of the activities at the Apostolic Palace was the prefect of the Apostolic Palace. However this position only existed between the 15th century and the 1800s. The Papal States had some economic crises and as a way of saving some money, the position of the prefect of the Apostolic Palace was reviewed and a committee was created by Leo XIII to run   the palace.

The Apostolic Palace is a complex building comprising of several Papal Apartments, the Vatican Museums, some of the Catholic Church’s government offices, the Vatican Library, and a number of both private and public chapels among other buildings. Generally, there are over 1000 rooms within the Apostolic Palace. The palace houses offices of different functions including administrative offices that are not necessarily related to the Pope's duties. Some of the renowned rooms within the Apostolic Palace include the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael’s Rooms.

Therefore, despite the Apostolic Palace's name, it is not merely the pope's residence. It is also used for other administrative functions of the Holy See. For instance, there are several administrative offices within the Apostolic Palace which are used to administer government functions of the Vatican State. In many ways the Apostolic Palace can be compared with the White House, which is the term used to describe the general presidential administration of the United States. Hence the Apostolic palace is not only used for religious purposes but for the Vatican's general administration including the exercising of its political, economic and social responsibilities as a State.

The Apostolic Palace has several outstanding features and it has become one of the top tourist attractions in Rome, Italy. The palace has within it several beautiful gardens, fishponds, museums, natural conservatories, cattle premises (which produce plenty of milk to serve the whole palace) and a library. It is also the home to the Vatican Observatory.

There are several residences meant for the reigning pope and the Apostolic Palace is among the places where the Pope spends most of his time. once a new pope is elected, he takes over the Apostolic Palace as his residence. Some of the popes liked to spend time reflecting in the gardens within the Apostolic Palace. The Apostolic is also where several administrative meetings of the Vatican take place.