Is Vatican City a country? At less than half a square kilometer, Vatican City is the world's tiniest sovereign state. Sitting on top of Vatican hill near the River Tiber, Vatican City is centered on the domed St Peter's Basilica and Piazza San Pietro. It is the capital of Catholicism, home of the Pope, and superpower for the world's over one billion Catholics. It is also one of Rome's most visited regions, so be prepared to stand in long line to enter both St Peter's Basilica and also, all the Vatican Museums.
Vatican City was founded according to the governing terms of a treaty, known as The Lateran Treaty, in 1929, the modern version of the former Papal States. For over one thousand years, the Papal States surrounded Rome and a large portion of the central region of Italy. Italy was brought together as one country in the mid nineteen century and Rome was taken over by troops. At this time, Pope Pius IX had to release the remaining territories. Affairs between the poor peasants and of Italy were tense until Pope Pius XI and Mussolini formed the Vatican in 1929.
The Vatican has its own army, radio station, currency, postal service and newspaper. The Swiss Guards, founded by Julius II in 1500 to secure the Papal States, now act as the Pope's personal security guards. The Vatican's public face is the zenith of over one thousand years of building. The walls are from the year 846, the year that Pope Leo IV built them after several raids by the Saracen. The Vatican Palace, home of the Sistine Chapel, is an incredible piece of architecture built by a pope in the twelfth century. Later popes have continued to fortify, decorate and add on to the Vatican to suit their political needs. The original fourth century St Peter's Basilica was refurbished in the 1500s by such famed Renaissance masters as Michelangelo and Antonio da Sangallo.
Visitors often don't realize that other than the main attraction of gazing up at the work of Michelangelo, the Vatican Museums are some of the greatest museums in the entire world. All the museums are interconnected and display works from the astoundingly immense collection owned by the Catholic Church and obtained throughout the centuries. However, your visit will be made easier if you know a few things beforehand: the Vatican Museums do not accept credit cards; they expect you to dress appropriately, and always, your waiting time in line will be long so take along reading material!
The simplest way to reach the Vatican is to take the metro line A to Ottaviano-San Pietro. Also, buses numbers 40 and 64 go to the Vatican from Stazione Terminal. It doesn't have an airport but is served by the airports in Rome. The nearest airport to Vatican City is Rome airport Fiumicino or Leonardo da Vinci airport of Rome. Major Italian city closest Vatican is Rome.