One of the most popular destinations for people on a vacation to Italy is the Vatican City. Most people do not know that this is a sovereign city-state. This means that it makes its own rules and has its own governing system independent of the Italian system. The Vatican City is a walled state within the city of Rome. It is the smallest independent state in the whole world with only a little over 100 acres. It was formed in 1929 under an agreement between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See. The Holy See refers to the central governing system of the Catholic Church headed by the Pope. The Pope is also known as the Bishop of Rome. The Vatican City houses the official residence of the Pope and it is visited by millions of people each year on an Italy vacation.
You can enter the Vatican City through the famous St. Peter’s square. This square is characterized by great Baroque architecture from the 1600s to include symbols of the church motherly embracing its people in its arms. St. Peter’s Basilica is another place you can visit in the Vatican City while on your Italy vacation because it is also found in St. Peter’s square. It is the most notable building in the Vatican City and this church’s dome can be seen for miles around Rome. St. Peter’s Basilica seats 60,000 and is said to be the largest building in the Christian church. It is noted for being the burial site of St. Peter who is said to be the founding father of the Catholic Church by being the first Bishop of Rome. The discovery of his tomb was announced in 1950 after a decade of archeological research.
Catholic tradition says that St. Peter is buried under the altar of this Basilica and therefore all the Popes since then have also been buried in the Basilica the most recent being Pope John Paul II in April 2005. At the entrance of the Basilica are statues of Christ, St. John the Baptist and 11 of the 12 apostles. You can enter the Basilica for free during your Italian vacation if you are properly dressed with no bare shoulders or knees. If you would like to attend mass you should go to the Basilica on a Sunday.
There are several other places to see here during your Italy vacation. The largest museum in the world is also found in the Vatican City. It has over 1400 rooms and galleries that represent 3000 years of art. The Sistine Chapel is also found here and is known for being the private chapel that the cardinals go to when electing a new Pope.
So what is the best way to see all the sights that the Vatican City has to offer during your Italian vacation? There are guided tours available that can be taken for half a day or longer. You can take a guided tour of just the museum or a guided tour to include all the important places of interest in the Vatican City and this will ensure that you don’t miss a thing here on your Italian vacation.