"Vatican City - Stato della Città del Vaticano" Vatican City by eksvist

Vatican City Travel Guide: 1,257 reviews and 3,855 photos

Vatican City, officially State of the Vatican City, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome.
At approximately 44 hectares, and with a population of around 800, it is the smallest independent state in the world by both population and area.

Vatican City is a non-hereditary, elected monarchy that is ruled by the Bishop of Rome — the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all clergymen of the Catholic Church. 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 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 territory included St. Peter's Square, which was not possible to isolate from the rest of Rome, and therefore a largely imaginary border with Italy runs along the outer limit of the square where it touches on Piazza Pio XII and Via Paolo VI. St. Peter's Square is reached through the Via della Conciliazione which runs from the Tiber River to St. Peter's.

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.
Recruitment is arranged by a special agreement between the Holy See and Switzerland, and is restricted to Catholic male (Swiss) citizens.

  • Last visit to Vatican City: Jul 2005
  • Intro Updated May 13, 2008
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