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State of the Vatican City

The State of the Vatican City is a walled enclave which is situated in Italy's capital, Rome. It's the smallest country in the world by both population and area. Its walls are 3.2 km long and they enclose a territory of about 0.44 square kilometers.

piazza san pietro, the main square of the Vatican cityVatican City is the home of Popes and the Holy See. Though Holy See exists since early Christianity, Vatican City became a city-state only in 1929, after the Lateran Pacts, agreements made between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See which ended the "Roman Question".
It's interesting how Holy See and Vatican City have two different passports. The firs one, since it's not a country, has only diplomatic passports, meanwhile the second one has normal ones. Anyway the number of these passports in the world is very small.

Due to its small territory and impossibility to have all of its institutions inside the walls, some of the major basilicas and the Gandolfo Castle enjoy extraterritorial status which is similar to that of foreign embassies.

gardens in vatican cityThe Vatican City was born upon a small portion of Rome. The name "Vatican" is very ancient. It's coming from the Latin Mons Vaticanus, which means Vatican Mount. That unpopulated area saw its beginnings in the 1st century AD, when Agrippina the Elder, granddaughter of the first emperor of the Roman Empire, drained the hill and environs and built her gardens there. Then, in time, the location has been developing until it gained its first church in 326, the Constantinian basilica. For much of the time through history Vatican was not the habitual residence of the Popes.

Vatican City is organized as an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state and is ruled by the bishop of Rome–the Pope.The Pope is the head of legislative, executive and judicial power. It's interesting that the Holy See has the oldest active continuous diplomatic service in the world.

The Popes security is in hands of the Pontifical Swiss Guard which was founded by Pope Julius II on January 1506 as personal bodyguards, meanwhile the police force services are reserved for the Corpo della Gendarmeria which is responsible for public order, law enforcement, traffic control and criminal investigations in Vatican City.
It's rare to see, but Vatican City issues its own coins for its currency euro.

Upon the last population census Vatican City has about 900 citizens. Some of them live and/or work inside the Vatican's walls, others are Holy See's diplomats and work in embassies around the world. The whole citizenry consists of two groups: clergy and the Swiss Guard.
As far as concerns the official language, Vatican City doesn't have one, but Holy See often uses Latin.
Unlike other states, citizenship of Vatican City is granted iure officii, on the grounds of appointment to work in the service of the Holy See, and it usually ceases upon cessation of the appointment.

basilica di san pietro in the vatican city stateIn 1984 Vatican City became UNESCO's World Heritage Site and it is the only one to consist of an entire state.
This small portion of land has very rich cultural significance. World famous St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are both Vatican's marvels. They treasure important work of some famous Italian artists like Botticelli, Bernini, Raphael and Michelangelo. Vatican Gardens spread upon more than half of its territory and are very famous for their beauty, fountains and sculptures. Click here for more information about Vatican Museums and Vatican Museums Tickets.

Our Suggestion
Audience with Pope Benedict at Vatican City

Audience with Pope Benedict at Vatican City

For a truly memorable experience in Rome that will last a lifetime, visit Vatican City and take part in a Papal Audience at St. Peter's Square or Basilica. Enjoy a brief city tour as you prepare for your encounter with the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Book your guided tour in Rome with us!Duration: 3.5 hours
Price: Starting from EUR €36.00 per person
based on traveler feedback

Our Suggestion
Papal audience tickets reservation

Papal Audience Tickets and Presentation

This is a service allowing visitors to reserve tickets with seating for a papal audience with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican City. The price includes a presentation and explanation of the events of the Papal Audience to prepare you for the gathering.

Book your guided tour in Rome with us!Duration: 2.5 hours
Price: Starting from EUR €32.00 per person
based on traveler feedback

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