The Vatican City is an independent state created in 1929 by the Lateran treaty, signed by Benito Mussolini on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III and by Cardinal Gasparri for Pope Pius XI. It is one of the most sacred places in Christendom and consists of a walled enclave covering an area of 110 acres within the city of Rome It is the official residence of the Pope and home to the Holy See, the centre of the Roman Catholic Church.
The colourful Swiss Guards are a well-known sight in Vatican City. They are posted at all the entrances and they provide security and protect the Pope. The design of their uniforms is attributed to Michelangelo or Raphael. They are the smallest and oldest standing army in the world, having been founded in 1506 by the warrior pope, Julius II.
Some of the world's most famous architecture and art can be found within Vatican City. St Peter's Basilica, the centre of the Catholic Church, has a dome designed by Michelangelo, that is so large that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside it with room to spare! This awe-inspiring interior also houses some beautiful works of art, including Michelangelo's 'La Pietà'.
The Basilica, created through the combined creative efforts of Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini and Maderna, was erected over the tomb of St Peter the Apostle. It is the largest religious building in the world and one of the best known examples of Renaissance Architecture.
In addition, Vatican City houses the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel, with its famous cieling painted by Michelangelo. The Vatican is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the only one to consist of an entire state.
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