Vatican City, In Italian “Stato della Città del Vaticano”, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, and an enclave in Rome, situated on the west bank of the Tiber River.
It is the world’s smallest fully independent nation-state.
St. Peter’s Basilica.
Its medieval and Renaissance walls form its boundaries except on the southeast at St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro). Of the six entrances, only three—the piazza, the Arco delle Campane (Arch of the Bells) in the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the entrance to the Vatican Museums and Galleries in the north wall—are open to the public.
The most imposing building is St. Peter’s Basilica, built during the 4th century and rebuilt during the 16th century. Erected over the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle, it is the second largest religious building (after Yamoussoukro Basilica) in the Ivory Coast.
The Vatican palace is the residence of the pope within the city walls. The Holy See is the name given to the government of the Roman Catholic Church, which is led by the pope as the bishop of Rome.
As such, the Holy See’s authority extends over Catholics throughout the world. Since 1929 the pope has resided in Vatican City, which was established as an independent state to enable the pope to exercise his universal authority.
The Sistine Chapel.
Vatican cultural life has much declined since the Renaissance, when the popes were among Italy’s foremost patrons of the arts. The Vatican Museums and Galleries, the frescoes by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, the frescoes by Pinturicchio in the Borgia Apartment, and Raphael’s Stanze (“Rooms”) nevertheless attract critics, artists, and flocks of tourists from throughout the world.
Vatican City has its own telephone system, post office, gardens, astronomical observatory, radio station, banking system, and pharmacy, as well as a contingent of Swiss Guards responsible for the personal safety of the pope since 1506.
Almost all supplies—including food, water, electricity, and gas—must be imported. There is no income tax and no restriction on the import or export of funds. As the Holy See, it derives its income from the voluntary contributions of more than one billion Roman Catholics worldwide, as well as interest on investments and the sale of stamps, coins, and publications. Banking operations and expenditures have been reported publicly since the early 1980s.
Vatican City was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.