Vatican City (World Heritage)

By | September 9, 2021

The world heritage includes the entire Vatican City with St. Peter’s Church, St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican Palace with the Vatican Museums and Gardens. The Vatican has been the papal residence since 1377. St. Peter’s Basilica, which was built in the 15th century, and the Papal Palace are the centers of Catholic Christianity not only of high religious, but also of great importance in terms of art history.

Vatican City: facts

Official title: Vatican city
Cultural monument: 0.44 km² Vatican City with St. Peter, St. Peter’s Square, Vatican Palace and Vatican Gardens as well as the extraterritorial palaces and churches such as San Paolo fuori le Mura
Continent: Europe
Country: Vatican state
Location: Vatican City, Rome
Appointment: 1984
Meaning: Center of Catholic Christianity

Vatican City: history

64 or 67 Death of the apostle Peter in the circus of the emperor Nero
324 Construction of the first St. Peter’s Church
1471-84 Pope Sixtus IV.
1473-83 Construction of the Sistine Chapel under Pope Sixtus IV.
until 1541 Decoration of the Sistine Chapel by artists such as Michelangelo
1506-90 New building of St. Peter
1520 Publication of the bull “Exsurge Domine” against Luther by Pope Leo X.
1527 Conquest of Rome by imperial troops, Pope Clement VII flees to Castel Sant’Angelo
1626 Consecration of the extension of St. Peter by Pope Urban VIII.
1656-67 Plant of St. Peter’s Square
1798 After the French occupation of Rome, Pope Pius VI was deposed. and proclamation of the “Roman Republic”
1848 Escape of Pope Pius IX. before the popular uprising to Gaeta in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
1850 After French intervention, the Pope returns to Rome
1870 Conquest of Rome by Italian troops and end of the Papal States
1929 With the Lateran Treaty, the conflict between the Italian state and the Vatican, which has been going on since 1870, is settled by the establishment of the sovereign Vatican state
1980-90 Restoration of the ceiling paintings in the Sistine Chapel

Church spire and art safe

“All roads lead to Rome” was the motto back then, when the Eternal City was still the center of the world. In the meantime, other metropolises have overtaken Rome. But for culturally-minded Europeans, the Tiber city remains attractive and unique because of its masterpieces from antiquity to the baroque. For Catholics around the world, Rome is above all the seat of the Pope, the city that surrounds the Vatican. Visit for Vatican a treasure trove for the cultural tourist.

The pontiff and St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy See and unholy financial affairs, the Sistine Chapel and the Swiss Guard: the keyword “Vatican” evokes many, sometimes contradicting images. Millions of pilgrims still think of John Paul II, who ruled the Roman Catholic world church for more than 26 years; In the Vatican, anti-clericals see the symbol of the official church they hate. Tourists like to take pictures of the members of the Swiss Guard in their historical uniforms; Educational travelers, on the other hand, rave about the jewels of world art in the museums of the Vatican.

Legend has it that the apostle Peter was crucified on the Vatican Hill – once the circus of Emperor Nero was located here – in the course of the persecution of Christians. A basilica was built on his (presumed) grave and, centuries later, St. Peter’s Basilica, the most important church in Christendom, was built. It is not far from the gray apostle’s grave in the underground realm under the cathedral to the altar in the middle of the cathedral, which is vaulted by the breathtaking dome by Michelangelo: a short path that marks almost two millennia of eventful history of the papacy. Peter’s tomb, the papacy and the Vatican are inextricably linked: the leading role of the bishops of Rome is based on the claim to be the successor to the Prince of the Apostles. And the Holy See is not a strange piece of furniture, but means the chair of Peter.

The nine titles of the Popes also include: Sovereign of the State of Vatican City. “SCV”, the Italian abbreviation for this state structure, catches the visitor’s eye many times, as these three letters appear on manhole covers as well as on the license plates of the Vatican State. This state had developed as a papal state since the early Middle Ages, and for a time it comprised large parts of central Italy. In the course of national unification, Italian soldiers conquered the “city of the Pope” in 1870, and the then pontiff Pius IX. embittered himself as a “voluntary prisoner” in the Vatican. It was only with the Lateran Treaty that the Vatican came into being within its current boundaries. In these treaties “the Holy See is guaranteed absolute and visible independence and sovereignty under international law”.

The Vatican, the heart of the Eternal City, also includes important museums with admirable evidence from antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but also modern religious art: if you want to see everything, you would have to travel seven kilometers! Masterpieces that fascinate every visitor are certainly the “Apollo Belvedere”, the “Laocoon Group”, also made of marble, and the rooms of a Pope’s apartment, the so-called “Stanzen”, which were painted by Raphael. From the rooms you can reach the Sistine Chapel, named after Pope Sixtus IV, which is part of the museums, but at the same time – again a specialty – has relevance to church history: this is where the election of the new Pope takes place after the death of a pontiff. Michelangelo painted “The Creation” on the ceiling of this chapel; later the great »Last Judgment« on the altar wall. Thanks to the restoration, this most famous fresco in world art shines in new splendor: a festival of colors in the Vatican.

Vatican City (World Heritage)