Vatican City is the Holy See’s independent city-state located completely within Rome, Italy. Also known simply as The Vatican, it became fully independent from Italy with the signing of the Lateran Treaty in 1929. With an area of a mere 121 acres and with a population of only around 825, it is by far the smallest state in the world by both area and population. After the Avignon Papacy (1309–1437), the popes have mainly resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times other residences, such as the Quirinal Palace in Rome, were also used.
Vatican City is also well-known for housing several important religious and cultural sites, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums, which feature some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures. The economy of Vatican City is also unique in that it is entirely supported financially by donations from the faithful, the sale of postage stamps and other souvenirs, the charging of admission fees to the museums, and through the sale of Vatican publications.
Important sites to see when visiting the Vatican should include:
- Within the walls of Vatican City:
- Outside of Vatican City, but still within Rome:
- Just outside of Rome:
- Castel Gandolfo (including the Barberini Gardens and the Apostolic Palace)
- Visited: 1988, 2016