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The Vatican

The Vatican City, also called simply the Vatican , is the smallest independent state in the world, both in terms of number of inhabitants, or 453, and of territorial extension with just 44 hectares of surface. It is partly circumscribed by the Vatican walls and extends, over the basilica of St. Peter , up to a band of travertine that joins the external ends of the colonnade to the ground, marking the border of the state at the edge of the square, which is usually accessed freely.

The Vatican City State arose following the Lateran Treaty , signed on 11 February 1929, between the Holy See and Italy, which sanctioned its personality as a sovereign body under international public law, established to ensure the Holy See , in its capacity as the supreme institution of the Catholic Church, “absolute and visible independence and guaranteeing it an indisputable sovereignty even in the international field”, as indicated in the preamble of the aforementioned Treaty.

The legal nature of the state

The form of government is absolute monarchy. The Supreme Pontiff, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, has full legislative, executive and judicial powers. During the period of vacancy, the same powers belong to the College of Cardinals , which, however, may issue legislative provisions only in cases of urgency and with effect limited to the duration of the vacancy, unless they are confirmed by the Supreme Pontiff subsequently elected according to the law. canonical.

The Vatican term

The Vatican City inherits its name from the hill, located on the right bank of the Tiber, on which it stands. The term derives, according to some – including the Latin author Marco Terenzio Varrone, reported by Aulus Gellio – from the name of an ancient Roman deity, Vaticanus , while others claim it derives from the Latin verb vaticinàri , in Italian “predire”, assuming that several oracles were active in the area. Sesto Pompeo Festus remembers, in fact, how this was a meeting place for some Etruscan fortune-tellers. Pliny the Elder, on the other hand, tells of the existence on the hill of a holm oak believed to be the oldest in Rome, to which magical powers were attributed and on whose trunk was affixed a bronze sign with some Etruscan letters.

Saint Peter’s Church

The construction of the current St. Peter’s Basilica was begun on April 18, 1506 under Pope Julius II and ended in 1626, during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII, while the arrangement of the square in front was only completed in 1667.   On the same site, before of today’s basilica, there was another dating back to the fourth century, built by the Roman emperor Constantine I on the area of ​​the circus of Nero and a contiguous necropolis where tradition has it that St. Peter, the first of the apostles of Jesus, had been buried after his crucifixion.

What to see of the Vatican outside and inside the walls?
  • the St. Peter’s Basilica . The history of this basilica and its symbolic value: only this could – or should – trigger the spring of curiosity. A tip: climb the dome, and from up there… look at Rome!
  • the Pietà by Michelangelo . Buonarroti could not have sculpted something more similar to reality and pain. The desperation of the face of the Madonna and the suffering body of Christ give shape to a sculpture that cannot fail to be admired.
  • the Sistine Chapel . You could spend hours and hours with your nose upwards to discover ever new details that leave you breathless.
  • the Vatican Museums . The most beautiful museum in the world, consisting of many rooms and places such as the courtyard of the Pigna , the Chiaramonti museum , the Pio-Clementino museum , the gallery of candelabra , the gallery of tapestries , the gallery of geographical maps , the Sobieski room , the room Immaculate Conception , the Raphael rooms , the museum of modern Art and contemporary and Art Gallery .
  • the Sacred Vatican Grottoes. They lie under the central nave of the basilica where, in addition to the tombs of various popes and rulers, there are early Christian sarcophagi, architectural and ornamental fragments and various monuments from the old basilica.