Vatican City

Stato della Citta del Vaticano

Vatican City is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world! It takes only about an hour to walk around this tiny country. Population of Vatican City amounts to approximately one thousand permanent residents, 95% of them are men and Latin is the official language. There is the post office, TV broadcasting, publishing house, legal authorities and even its own Military Corps of Vatican City. Vatican budget consists mostly of donations from Catholics. Some income comes from tourism including the sale of stamps, Vatican Euro coins, souvenirs and museum entrance fees. When you start your visit of Vatican City at St Peter’s Square, take a look at the unremarkable white line on the paving blocks. This is the only line that distinguishes Vatican City from the territory of Italy. This border is only something formal but you should remember that when you cross it, you enter the sacred area, which was considered such even in times before the Emperors. In 326 AD after adoption of Christianity the Constantine Basilica was built over what was believed to be the tomb of Saint Peter. The Papal State that was established in the middle of the VIII century covered a large portion of the Italian peninsula. In 1870 the Papal State was seized by the newly created Kingdom of Italy. Vatican City acquired its present political status on 11 February 1929 under the Lateran Treaties that were signed between the Head of Government Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI. Vatican City is surrounded by the Italian territory, total length of its state border is 3.2 km.

Vatican City is not only the heart of the world’s Catholicism but also a real open-air museum. It contains numerous masterpieces by the great masters, architectural landmarks and religious relics. One of the major landmarks is St Peter’s Basilica in which construction participated such masters as Bramante, Raphael, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderna. St Peter’s Square adorned with 284 Doric columns was designed by magnificent Bernini. Famous Vatican Museums include first of all the Sistine Chapel with beautiful ceiling frescoes painted by Michelangelo and Raphael’s Stanze – rooms designed and painted by the great Italian artist of the Renaissance period. Unique collections of art pieces are exhibited in the entire complex of museums. Pio-Clementino Museum holds the richest collection of Greek and Roman pieces of art. Museum Chiaramonti consists of a large arched gallery in which sides are exhibited several statues, sarcophaguses and friezes while Pinacoteca Vaticana includes Byzantine and European paintings of the XI-XIX centuries.

Egyptian Museum and Etruscan Museums display artefacts of the Etruscan culture and pieces of Egyptian art from Rome and nearby areas. Vatican Library includes about 1 600 000 printed book, 150 000 manuscripts, over 100 000 engravings and geographic maps, 300 000 coins and medals. We would also recommend to visit Arazzi Gallery (tapestries that picture the Acts of the Apostles), Candelabrum Gallery which exhibits the objects of classic art. Don’t forget about the Vatican Gardens that can be visited only with the guided tour. On the right from St Peter’s Basilica there is the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Popes. On Sundays in one of the windows of the Palace you can see the Pope who gives his blessing to the people gathered on the square. On Mondays and Tuesdays Swiss Guards distribute free tickets to the Pope’s speech which occurs every Wednesday on St Peter’s Square. Many other Vatican tours you can find here.

On your way to the Vatican Museums or to St. Peter's Basilica have a bite of a mind-blowingly tasty tiramisu in a wonderful confectionery called Pompi located in Via Cola di Rienzo, 313 (a 5 minute walk from St. Peter Square). Since 1960 this place has been offering its guests more than 10 kinds of different tiramisu, ice-cream and unforgettable desserts! Yummy, this is probably the best tiramisu in Rome! This tiramisu bar offers its delicious products daily from 11 am till 11 pm, Fri and Sat till 2 am.

Address: Viale Vaticano
How to reach: metro Ottaviano
Coordinates: 41.902229, 12.456885