Vatican City is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Italy; although technically it is not really in Italy but rather an independent country as explained in the list below. It is the home of the pope and the administrative center for the Catholic Church. On this page you will find interesting facts about Vatican City including where it is located, why it is so famous, and when it was built. This information is written for both kids and adults.
List of Interesting Facts about Vatican City
Vatican City's official name is Vatican City State.
It is the only country in the world located totally within a city (Rome).
With a total land area of only .17 square miles (.44 square kilometers) and a population of approximately 1,000 people, Vatican City is the smallest independent state in both land area and population in the world.
The ruler of Vatican City is the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope.
Vatican City became an independent state as part of the Lateran Treaty signed by the Italian government and the papacy which became effective June 7th of 1929. Under this treaty the Catholic church recognized the state of Italy, and Rome as its capital, and the Italian government recognized Vatican City as a sovereign state.
Vatican City is built around the site where it is said Saint Peter was crucified, and became the seat of the Catholic Church in the 4th century A.D. when a basilica was built over Saint Peter's grave.
Vatican City Tourist Attractions
Over five million people per year visit Vatican City, seeing such amazing attractions as the Sistine Chapel, Saint Peter's Basilica, and the numerous museums that house some of the most famous art in the world. Below is a list of some of these attractions and what you can see there.
Saint Peter's Basilica
Saint Peter's Basilica is an Italian Renaissance church built between 1506 and 1626 and replaced the original Basilica that dated to the 4th century A.D.
This building is one of the holiest Christian sites in the world due to the belief that it is built upon the burial site of the apostle Saint Peter and that numerous popes have been interred there.
The church is an architectural masterpiece with numerous statues and structures built and designed by some of the greatest artist the world has ever known. Michelangelo was one of the chief architects and designed the buildings famous dome.
Located right in front of Saint Peter's Basilica is Saint Peter's Square which also has numerous attractions including an ancient Egyptian obelisk, and beautiful fountains built in the 1600s by Carlo Maderno and Bernini.
The Sistine Chapel
Named for Pope Sixtus (Sisto) IV who restored the building in the late 1400s.
This chapel is the official residence of the Pope.
This famous attraction draws approximately five million tourist a year.
The walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are covered with amazing paintings by some of the finest Renaissance painters.
The Sistine Chapel is most famous for its ceiling which was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. The ceiling contains nine scenes from the Book of Genesis. The most famous part of the ceiling is the painting of the creation of Adam, where God's hand is about to touch Adams.
The Vatican Museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the early 1500s and has been expanded over the centuries by numerous Popes.
There are over 20,000 amazing works of art on display at the Vatican Museums.
The art in the museums were produced by some of the most renowned artist who ever lived including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael.