Information about the Vatican

Information about the Vatican

Some information about the Vatican: In ancient times, the term ”Vatican” was used to identify the marshy area on the right bank of the Tiber. Along what is now Via Trionfale, which from St. Peter’s heads towards Monte Mario, several groups of tombs were built in the course of the centuries, while along the current Via Cornelia arose a necropolis where the apostle Peter was buried, that made this marshland area become the destination of significant pilgrimages. In the fourth century A.D. the necropolis was replaced by a basilica dedicated to the Apostle commissioned by Emperor Constantine, and this played a major role in the development in later centuries, of the whole area.The church, built by the Emperor after the liberalization of the Christian religion with the Edict of Milan, was built in order to have in the center the tomb of Peter.

Just to safeguard the tomb, in the mid-800, Leo IV ordered the construction of the first walls of the civitas, called “Leonine walls”. The first building within the walls was built between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and the Leonine Walls boundary was restructured. Then there was a halt, which lasted over a century, during which Rome and the Basilica of St. Peter’s were abandoned: the papal court was moved to Avignon (1309). In the middle of the 1400s, Pope Nicholas V had drawn up, by the architect Bernardo Rossellini, an expansion project of the Basilica, which was soon abandoned for the advance of the Turks and the fall of Constantinople. Between 1477 and 1480, Pope Sixtus IV ordered the construction of a large chapel that he took the name of “Sistine”.

At the beginning of the 1500s, Julius II demolished the Basilica and began the construction of a new St. Peter’s, he also called Raphael to Rome, to fresco the papal apartments, and Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. The core of the new St. Peter’s Basilica was designed and initiated by Michelangelo, covered with a magnificent “vaulted” dome by Giacomo la Porta, and completed by Bernini in the middle of the seventeenth century with the current grand plaza.

The Lateran Treaty in 1929, marks the birth of the independent state of Vatican City, with an area of ​​just 44 hectares (0.44 km2). The form of government is an absolute monarchy and the head of state is the Pope. In charge of all the police and the State Security, since 1506, is the Swiss Guard, whose uniform is said to have been designed by Michelangelo.

Curiosities

The Paul VI Audience Hall, designed by the architect Nervi and built by Pope Paul VI (hence the name), is located on the border between Italy and the Vatican City. The chairs of the hall are almost all in Italian territory, but the area was given to the Holy See (not to the Vatican City, so this area is not within the 44 hectares of the State) with “extraterritorial  privilege”. This means that any crimes committed inside the hall are the responsibility of the State of Italian, however, being an extraterritorial   area, Italian police can not, in the event, go to investigate.

Useful Information
Currency: Euro
Contact the Pontifical Swiss Guard 0669898100

For more information on how to book entrance tickets to the Vatican MuseumsSt. Peter’s Basilica and to the Vatican Gardens visit the Rome Museum web site or call use at (+39) 055-713655.
Available Entrance TicketsGuided Group ToursPrivate Guided Tours.

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