What is the Vatican?
The Vatican (Vaticano), or Vatican City State is a sovereign city-state that belongs to the Holy See (Sancta Sedes). The Vatican is situated in a walled enclave inside the city of Rome. The Vatican has a population of less than 1000 and is approximately 0.44 square kilometers, (about 110 acres).Vatican City is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world. The Vatican has its own national Anthem and Flag. The currency in the Vatican is the Euro, although it isn't a member of the European Union. The Vatican Issues its own special Vatican coins. The Vatican also has its own postal service. In the Vatican post office you can buy Vatican Stamps and send postcards or letters to family and friends.
The Vatican has generally been the residence of the Pope since 1337. The Pope's residence is also known as the Apostolic Palace and it is located North-East of the St. Peter's basilica. The Pontifical Swiss Guard is in charge of the security of the Vatican and the Pope's personal safety. The Pontifical Swiss Guard has been filling this duty since the 16th century.The entire Vatican State is acknowledged as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1984. The main tourist attractions in the Vatican are: St. Peter's basilica, St. Peter's Square, The Vatican Museums and the Vatican gardens. The entrance to the Basilica and Square are free of charge. Please note that visitors are asked to dress appropriately when entering the church.
The Sistine Chapel
The Vatican's Legal Standing
On February 11th 1929, Vatican City State was established by the signing of the Lateran Treaties between the state of Italy and the Holy See. Its status as a sovereign State is universally recognized and is anchored in International law. Due to the small size of Vatican City, some of its Departments and offices are located in several buildings in Rome. These buildings enjoy the same status as embassies and foreign diplomatic missions according to the Lateran Treaty.
Vatican Geography and Vatican History
Vatican City lies beyond the right bank of the Tiber River, its on part of the ancient Montes Vaticani (the Vatican Mount) and where the Vatican Fields used to be .The Name "Vatican" originated from the name of this hill. The Vatican was protected from being secluded from the rest of the city by being included within the walls of Pope Leo IV (847–55), and later on fortified further by Popes Paul III , Pius IV and Urban VIII. There are five entrances to Vatican City; Many Visitors start their Vatican tour at St Peter's square. The best way to get to the Vatican from Rome's historical center is through Ponte St. Angelo. The entrance to the Vatican Museums is on Viale Vaticano.
The Notorious Roman Emperor Caligula (37-41AD) built a circus at the area of the current Vatican. St Peter the apostle was buried in a necropolis to the north of the circus. Traditionally it is said that The See of Rome was founded by Saint Peter who first held the position of the Bishop of Rome (Pope).Between the years 324 and 326 AD, the Emperor Constantine built a basilica on top of St. Peter's grave. It was replaced by the present St. Peter's Basilica between the 16th and 17th centuries. And was designed and decorated by Renaissance and baroque geniuses such as Raphael, Bramante, Bernini Michelangelo, and Maderna. St. Peter's basilica is the largest religious building in the world.