It may be the smallest sovereign state in the world, comprising less than a half square kilometer, but Vatican City has enormous appeal for visitors from around the globe. The capital of the Catholic world, the city is a spiritual superpower and one of the most visited areas in Rome.
The State of the Vatican City is a contemporary incarnation of the Papal States, which encompassed most of central Italy for over a thousand years. When Italian troops conquered Rome in 1870, Pope Pius IX had to relinquish his territories, and relations between the papacy and the Italian government were contentious until Pope Pius XI and Mussolini signed the 1929 Lateran Treaty establishing the Vatican State.
Surrounded by Rome, the best way to enter Vatican City is by foot over the Ponte St. Angelo bridge. Untold numbers of pilgrims have made the trek over the bridge since its construction in 239 AD, and the streets nearby are lined with original buildings stemming from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Once inside the Holy See, breathe in the exhilarating energy of the square and absorb the view of the astonishingly impressive St. Peter’s Basilica. It is an iconic image you won’t forget, and few monuments can compete with this highlight. According to Catholics, the basilica stands on holy ground. Saint Peter, an apostle of Jesus, was martyred close by in 64 AD, and his burial place is the basilica’s centerpiece. The famed artist Michelangelo took over renovations in the mid-16th century, and although more alterations were made in the early 17th century, the basilica still retains much of its original structure and style.
If the exterior of the basilica is impressive, the interior is absolutely awe-inspiring. The grand dome alone soars higher than the Statue of Liberty, and artwork by Bernini, Guercino, Michelangelo, Giotto and others line the walls. Pause to rub the bronze statue of St. Peter for good luck, and stroll through the over 100 tombs in the underground crypt. A guided tour is really the best way to explore the basilica because there is simply so much to be awed and fascinated by.
One of the most unforgettable experiences in the Holy See is visiting the Vatican Museums, one of the world’s most notable museum complexes. There series of interconnected museums was established in the early 1500s by Pope Julius II and expanded by successive pontiffs. Taking in the whole complex in just one visit is impossible and seeing just the highlights takes several hours, but it is worth it.
The Sistine Chapel is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring and remarkable sites in the Vatican City, largely due to its famous ceiling. Michelangelo’s frescoes were commissioned by Pope Julius II ain 1508, the artwork remains one of the artist’s most profound masterpieces. Divided into nine panels, the ceiling’s artwork tells the stories of Noah, the creation of Adam, his expulsion with Eve from the Garden of Eden, their fall from grace and other Biblical tales. Grandiose images of angels and prophets line the sides of the chapel, and a giant fresco above the alter depicts harrowing scenes from the Last Judgement. Even non-Catholics can enjoy this amazing artwork, making the Vatican City a must-see place for all.
Vatican City Geographical Location
Vatican City is located in the western center of Rome. Vatican City is a city-state and is the smallest country in the world. The population of
Vatican City is approximately 830.
Vatican City Language
Italian and Latin are the official languages of Vatican City while French is also common.
Vatican City Predominant Religion
100% Roman Catholic
The Pope resides in Vatican City and is where he conducts all of his papal duties.
Vatican City Currency
The Euro is the official currency of Vatican City.
Vatican City Climate
The Mediterranean climate of Vatican City defines the mild spring and autumn as well as the long summer. Vatican City’s summer season grows quite hot at its peak in July and August. The winters are not very cold and snowfall is extremely rare.
Vatican City Main Attractions
- Basilica di San Pietro
- Vatican Museum
- Sistine Chapel
- Roman Necropolis
- St. Peter’s Square
- Vatican Gardens
- La Pieta