Vatican City is one of the few microstates that currently exist in Europe and is located in Rome, the capital of Italy. The independence of the Holy See from the neighboring country was declared in February 1929 through the Lateran Pacts. It is known worldwide for being the nerve center of the Catholic Church.
It has an area of 0,44 km2 and its territory is so small that only St. Peter's Basilica occupies 7% of its surface. It has a population of about 800 inhabitants. The Pope is the head of state and in the smallest country in the world live lay people, Swiss Guards, cardinals, priests and his own High Pontiff.
The independence of the Holy See from Italy was declared on February 11, 1929 through the Lateran Pacts. In Vatican City there are three visits that shine with their own light: St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, where the Sistine Chapel is located.
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St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica is the most important religious building in Catholicism. In it, the Pope celebrates the most important liturgies and its interior welcomes the Holy See. Entering the basilica is undoubtedly one of the most memorable experiences of a visit to Rome.
It gets its name from the first pope in history, Saint Peter, whose body is buried in the temple. Its construction began in 1506 and ended in 1626 and various architects participated in it, among which we could highlight Bramante or Miguel Ángel.
Its interior has a capacity for 20.000 people. Among the works of art that can be seen within its walls are Bernini's Baldachin, Michelangelo's La Piedad and the statue of Saint Peter on his throne.
One of the things that most attracts the attention of the basilica is its incredible dome that has served as inspiration for other subsequent projects, such as St. Paul's Cathedral in London or the Capitol in Washington.
It is possible to access the dome to admire the Plaza de San Pedro from above if the day is clear but it is not an activity for all audiences since the last section is done through a narrow spiral staircase that can become overwhelming to some people.
St. Peter's Square
This square is one of the most beautiful in the world and together with the basilica it occupies 20% of the territory of the Vatican City. It was built by Bernini in the mid-300.000th century and can accommodate more than XNUMX people for liturgies and major events.
In addition to its size (320 meters long and 240 meters wide), the most impressive thing about the square are the 284 columns and 88 pilasters that line the square in a four-row portico. Its construction was carried out between 1656 and 1667 at the hand of Bernini, with the support of Pope Alexander VII.
In the center of the square, the obelisk and the two fountains stand out, one by Bernini (1675) and the other by Maderno (1614). The 25-meter high obelisk was brought to Rome from Egypt in 1586.
The Vatican Museums in the smallest country in the world house thousands of works of art collected by the Roman Catholic Church over more than five centuries.
The origins of these museums date back to 1503, when Pope Julius II began his pontificate and donated his private art collection. From this moment, the following popes and various private families made contributions and increased the collection until it became one of the largest in the world.
Inside the Vatican Museums is the Sistine Chapel, which is known for its rich decoration and for being the space in which the next pope is elected. Its construction was carried out during the mandate of Pope Sixtus IV, to whom it owes its name. Some of the most important artists who worked on it were Miguel Ángel, Botticelli, Perugino or Luca.
Tips for visiting the Vatican City
- Consider taking the metro as a means of transportation both to get to and from Vatican City.
- Places to eat near the entrance to St. Peter's Basilica are often expensive and not highly recommended. For this reason, we recommend you go to those that are on Via Germanico to Via Marcantonio Colonna.
- The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel cost approximately 17 euros and the Dome of St. Peter costs approximately 8 euros. St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square are free.
- Book an official guide to visit the Vatican Museums and other parts of Vatican City. This way you make sure that you will see everything.
The Vatican City is more than a city to use, it is a place of prayer for which the Vatican itself has its own dress code. If you know it, here we tell you:
- Both knees and shoulders must be covered by clothing. If these areas are not covered, they can reject you when entering the city. For this reason, sleeveless tops, sundresses, and shorts are not allowed. Women can somewhat correct this by wearing a shawl around the shoulder area or wearing tights or leggings under pants or short dresses.
- Wear good and comfortable shoes. Although the city is small, you will have to walk and wait in long lines to enter certain sites (basilicas, museums, churches, etc.).
- Do not carry a large backpack or bag to visit the sites, as they are usually scanned. If you don't want to be stopped too much at security checkpoints, the less things you carry, the better.