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Trace the centuries old footsteps of of faith and tradition and uncover the majesty of the Papal State on a spiritual journey to Vatican City; the Heart of Rome.

About The Vatican

The Holy See, under the absolute authority of the Pope of the Roman Catholic church, is the smallest independent country in the world.

Spend at least half a day exploring all that Vatican City has to offer.

It is best to visit early in the morning, to avoid the lengthy queues of tourists and pilgrims.

Travel Map Mapping The Holy See

When in Rome, you really should visit the Vatican.

Map of Vatican City (Holy See)

Although established in 1929, under terms of the Lateran Treaty, St Peter's Square is still subject to the authority of the Italian police.

Vatican City Overview

Vatican City, officially known as the Vatican City State, is the smallest independent state in the world, both in terms of area and population.

The Holy See is an enclave within the city of Rome, Italy.


Vatican City is governed as an absolute monarchy with the Pope serving as the head of state.

Executive authority is exercised by the Governorate of Vatican City, which is headed by a president appointed by the Pope.

The legal system is based on canon law and is supplemented by the civil laws of Italy.


Vatican City has a rich history that dates back to ancient times.

It was established as an independent state in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy.

However, the history of the Catholic Church and its influence on Western civilisation can be traced back over two millennia.

Holy See

While Vatican City is a sovereign state, the Holy See, which is the central governing body of the Catholic Church, also operates from Vatican City.

The Holy See represents the Pope's authority and diplomatic activities on the international stage.


Most of the residents in Vatican City are members of the clergy, including priests, bishops, and cardinals, as well as members of the Swiss Guard; the Vatican's small military force.

Size and Location

Vatican City covers an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres) and is completely surrounded by Rome.

It is situated on the west bank of the Tiber River, just west of the historic center of Rome.

Spiritual Centre

Vatican City is the spiritual and administrative centre of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is the residence of the Pope, who is the head of the Catholic Church and the sovereign of Vatican City.

The Pope's official residence is the Apostolic Palace, which also contains various offices, chapels, and museums.

Tourist Attractions

Despite its small size, Vatican City is a major tourist destination.

Visitors from around the world come to see iconic landmarks such as St. Peter's Basilica, one of the largest and most renowned churches in the world, and the Vatican Museums, which house an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts, including the Sistine Chapel with its famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo.

Visiting Vatican City

Vatican City holds immense significance for Catholics worldwide and attracts millions of visitors each year who come to experience its religious, cultural, and historical heritage.

Vatican City Highlights

It's advisable to book tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to avoid long queues and ensure a smooth visit.

Remember to dress modestly and respectfully, as Vatican City is a religious site.

Papal Audience

If you're lucky, you may have the opportunity to attend a papal audience, where visitors can see the Pope and receive his blessings.

Tickets are typically free but must be requested in advance.

St. Peter's Basilica

This iconic Renaissance church, designed by Michelangelo and others, is a masterpiece of architecture and a major pilgrimage site for Catholics.

The basilica houses numerous works of art, including Michelangelo's famous Pieta and Bernini's spectacular baldachin.

St. Peter's Square

Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the square is a vast open space adorned with fountains, an Egyptian obelisk, and colonnades topped with statues of saints.

It's a gathering place for visitors and the site of papal audiences and ceremonies.

The Sistine Chapel

This chapel, renowned for Michelangelo's ceiling and Last Judgment frescoes, is not only a masterpiece of Western art but also a sacred space where cardinals gather to elect new popes during papal conclaves.

Vatican Apostolic Library

While access to the Vatican Library is restricted, scholars can request permission to conduct research in its vast collection of manuscripts, books, and historical documents.

Vatican Gardens

The lush Vatican Gardens, covering nearly half of Vatican City's territory, offer a tranquil retreat from the bustling city.

Guided tours provide insights into the garden's history, design, and botanical wonders.

Vatican Museums

Home to one of the world's greatest art collections, the Vatican Museums display an extensive array of treasures spanning centuries.

Highlights include the Sistine Chapel, adorned with Michelangelo's breathtaking ceiling frescoes, and the Raphael Rooms, featuring works by Raphael and his pupils.

Holy See Jurisdiction

The Holy See, also known as the Apostolic See or the Vatican City State, is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church.

It serves as the central governing body of the Roman Catholic Church and is recognised as a sovereign entity under international law.

The Holy See is located within the city of Rome, Italy, and is the smallest independent state in the world, both in terms of land area and population.

Bishop of Rome

The Pope, who is the Bishop of Rome and the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, serves as the head of the Holy See.

The Pope is considered the successor of Saint Peter, who is traditionally recognised as the first Bishop of Rome and the founder of the Catholic Church.

The Pope exercises his authority from Vatican City, which is the territorial base of the Holy See.

The Holy See

The Holy See has a unique status in international relations.

It maintains diplomatic relations with countries around the world, and its representative, known as the Apostolic Nuncio, acts as a diplomatic ambassador.

The Holy See is a permanent observer in various international organisations, such as the United Nations, and participates in global affairs, advocating for peace, human rights, and social justice.

The Holy See plays a crucial role in the governance of the Catholic Church, overseeing matters related to faith, doctrine, and discipline.

It also supports various charitable and humanitarian initiatives worldwide through organizations such as Caritas Internationalis.

The Holy See's official language is Latin, and its main source of legislation is the Canon Law, which governs the internal workings of the Church.

Throughout history, the Holy See has played a significant role in shaping Western civilisation and influencing global affairs.

It has been involved in numerous diplomatic negotiations, mediations, and peace initiatives.

The Holy See has also been a proponent of interfaith dialogue and has engaged in efforts to foster unity and understanding among different religious traditions.

It is an institution that carries both spiritual and temporal authority, seeking to promote the teachings of the Catholic faith and address the social and moral issues of our time.

Vatican City

Vatican City, the territorial enclave of the Holy See, covers an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres) and is an independent city-state.

It is governed by the Pope, who holds absolute executive, legislative, and judicial powers within its borders.

Vatican City is home to numerous significant religious and cultural sites, including St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums, which attract millions of visitors each year.

Visiting The Vatican

A visit to the Holy See can be a profound and memorable experience, offering insights into the rich history and culture of the Catholic Church and its role in shaping the world we live in today.

For Pilgims and Tourists

The Holy See is located within the city of Rome, Italy, and is a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims from all over the world.

Vatican City, the territorial enclave of the Holy See, is home to numerous religious and cultural sites that are worth visiting.

Musei Vaticani

The founding of the Vatican Museums can be traced back to 1503 when the newly-elected Pope, Julius II della Rovere, placed a statue of Apollo in the internal courtyard of the Belvedere Palace built by Innocent VIII.

The Vatican's museums are outstanding and the Vatican Library has a priceless collection of ancient manuscripts and more than 1 million bound volumes.

The Vatican Museums

With over 70,000 works of art, the Vatican Museums are a treasure trove of artistic and cultural artifacts.

The museums are home to numerous ancient sculptures, paintings, and other artifacts from around the world.

Vatican Museums

Visiting The Vatican Museums

Vatican museums are closed on Sundays, except for the last Sunday of the month when entrance is free 9-12.30.

Vatican Gardens

The Vatican Gardens are a peaceful oasis within Vatican City, with beautifully manicured gardens and stunning views of St. Peter's Basilica and the surrounding area.

When Visiting Vatican City

It is important to remember that Vatican City is a religious site, and visitors are expected to dress modestly and behave respectfully.

Modest clothing is required for entry into St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, and shorts, bare shoulders, and low-cut tops are not permitted.

Avoid The Queues

To avoid long lines and crowds, it is recommended that visitors book tickets in advance and arrive early in the day.

Guided tours are also available and can provide visitors with a more in-depth understanding of the history and significance of the various sites within Vatican City.

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel owes its name to its client, Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (1471-1484), who wanted to build a large new room on the site where the 'Cappella Magna"'already stood, a fortified hall from the Middle Ages, intended to house the meetings of the papal court.

The Sistine Chapel has famous ceiling frescoes painted by Michelangelo and restored in the 1980s.

Raphael's Rooms are the papal apartments with frescoes painted by the Italian artist Raphael.

Many of the most renowned artists and architects of the Italian Renaissance were commissioned by popes to work on the Vatican's buildingsThe Sistine Chapel

The Vatican State

The Vatican City State was born with the Lateran Treaty, stipulated between the Holy See and Italy on 11th February. 1929 and ratified on 7th June 1929. Its personality as a sovereign body of international public law, distinct from the Holy See, is universally recognized.

It is surrounded by medieval and Renaissance walls and has six gates.

The Papal Palace complex contains more than 1,000 rooms and houses the papal apartments, the government offices of the Roman Catholic church, several chapels and museums, and a library.

St. Peter's Basilica

The largest church in the world, St. Peter's Basilica is an iconic landmark and a must-see for any visitor to Vatican City.

St Peter's Basilica is the world centre of the Roman Catholic faith, with the great St Peter's Square in front of it.

The basilica is home to numerous works of art, including Michelangelo's famous Pieta.

Follow in The Footsteps of The Holy Fathers

Birthplace of Benedict XVI:
Live from Marktl on April 19th, 2005 when it was announced that the new pope was a German; born in their sleepy Bavarian village.

Farewell Pope John Paul:
A look back at the world travels of His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

On The Papabili Trail in Northern Italy:
Visiting the birthplaces of four Italians who many wanted to see as Pope.

The Holy See:
The official site of the Papal City could have been designed by Michelangelo.

Pontifical Council for Culture

John Paul II founded the Pontifical Council of Culture on 20th May, 1982 with the aim of establishing dialogue between the Church and the cultures of the world.

Vatican Reading Room

Guide to the Vatican: Including Saint Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes

The Vatican - Saints and Sinners - Rome.

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