One of the most beautiful cities of Western Europe is Vatican, being unique due to the fact it is the world’s smallest country covering 44 hectares. Vatican City is a country enclave ruled by the Pope. Here you can see majestic medieval architectural constructions and works of art created by Raphael, Michelangelo and Botticelli.
The Vatican’s location is unique as well. It is located on the territory of Italy in the north-west of its capital Rome, and is a completely independent state.
Vatican City was officially established only in 1929, after the signing of the Lateran Pacts with Italy. However, Vatican has been considered to be a separate independent state since the 16th century. The first basilica building on the territory of Vatican was built in the 4th century. In the 8th century, there was already the State of the Holy See, being the centre of the Roman Catholic Church led by the Pope.
Today, Vatican City is one of the most visited states in the world. This unique country is the concentration of architectural structures of global importance, and the pilgrimage centre for millions of Catholics around the world. Here you can find buildings of world historical importance, where the destiny of the whole Europe had been ruled, where great sacred ordinances have been hidden.
The most famous and notable building in Vatican City is St Peter’s Basilica, which together with the square where it is located bear the name of St Peter. The Martyr was executed during the reign of Nero in the Circus of Nero, which used to be located at this place in former times. Later, the first church in Vatican City was built on this square. According to some sources, St Peter's Basilica had been built on the burial place of the Saint. In the temple’s construction you may notice things typical for ancient Roman basilicas. Well-known sculptors, painters and architects such as Bernini, Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Sangallo had worked at its construction. St Peter's Basilica is a semi-oval temple with a dome of 132 meters high in its centre. Be sure to visit the Basilica’s observation deck, where you should expect a sweeping view of Vatican City and Rome.
The second most significant after St Peter's Basilica is Sistine Chapel. Its walls and ceilings are covered in paintings of famous artists Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino and Michelangelo. In order to enjoy the beauty of this interior you should pass the Vatican Museums, which have gained their fame due to rich collections of works of art, historical findings representing the history of Rome and Italy. Frescoes of Michelangelo in Sistine Chapel are worthy of special attention – despite the fact they were created in the late 15th-early 16th centuries, they have not lost their bright colours.
In Vatican City, you can visit the Egyptian Museum, the Chiaramonti Museum, as well as the Pio-Christian Museum and the Etruscan Museum, and last but not least the Pinacoteca Vaticana, a picture gallery. Works of Renaissance artists are kept there: The Holy Jeremiah painted by Leonardo da Vinci, The Entombment painted by Caravaggio, The Martyrdom of St Erasmus created by Poussin, Raphael’s painting The Assumption of the Virgin, Renee’s work The Crucifixion of St Peter and others.
One of the biggest and most valuable libraries in the world is located in Vatican City. Ancient maps, books, manuscripts and drawings preserved in a single copy, including works of ancient poets Virgil and Cicero, Luther, Petrarch and Thomas Aquinas, and one of the volumes of the Bible C15th are kept in this library.
After visiting churches and museums of Vatican City, you can stroll in Belvedere Park and the Vatican Gardens, which have been laid out by the best architects of those times.
You should definitely taste Italian dishes: pizza, minestra, pasta, risotto and others. In Vatican City, so-called traditional church food specially prepared for the pilgrims is quite popular.
Despite its small territory, Vatican City State has got a significant impact in the world. Don’t hesitate to visit and explore this unique state with holy structures walking along cobblestone paths. Furthermore, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with its dominated mild Mediterranean climate beautiful in any season.
Administrative division — Vatican City
- Vatican Population: 829