Vatican in Rome

Vatican is an independent state, the residence of the Pope. However, tourists are more interested not in its state structure but in its sights, such as the Basilica of St. Peter with its large colonnade and the Vatican museums.

In ancient times Vatican was a swampy area behind the city wall. Under the emperor Caligula the area was drained and his mother Agrippina had a villa and garden built there. Later the emperor Nero decided to construct there a small circus (similar to the Coliseum), where not only games but also executions were conducted.

The apostle Peter was elected the first bishop of Rome in 43 A.D. And in 64 A.D., as a result of a large fire, 11 of 14 quarters of the city were almost completely burnt. The emperor Nero accused the Christians of arson and most of them were executed, including the apostle Peter. In 64 A.D. he was crucified at the circus of Nero and buried at the adjoining cemetery. The grave of the apostle Peter at once became a sacred place for the Christians of Rome. They decided that as soon as they could build a church in this place, its altar should be just above the grave of St. Peter.

The first basilica was erected above the grave of the apostle Peter under the emperor Constantine in 326 A.D., when Christianity became a legal religion of the Roman Empire. The basilica became one of the main sacred things of Christianity. All the Popes were crowned in the basilica, and in 800 A.D. even Charles the Great was declared emperor of the Holy Roman Empire there.

In the period of feudal disunity Rome, as well as large surrounding territories, belonged to the the Papal state. For several centuries the Pope was not only the spiritual head of the Catholics but also the ruler of a large state in the center of Italy.

In 19 century the separate principalities of Italy were united into a centralized state. The process of unification was completed in 1870 when Rome was included in the new united Italy and the Papal state ceased its existence. However, the Holy See demanded independence from Italy. And in 1929 Benito Mussolini granted independence to Vatican but its area was only 1.5 km2. The Basilica of St. Peter, as well as several papal palaces, are on the territory of Vatican. Some palaces house the most valuable collections of the Vatican museums. 

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In the center of St. Peter`s square was placed an Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome by Emperor Caligula in 37
Facade of the St. Peter Cathedral in Rome
Kivory above the main altar of the Cathedral, where was found the tomb of St. Peter
View on St. Peter Square from the dome of the Cathedral
The Vatican Museum consists of several museums, and every one has valuable collection
The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel were created by the great Michelangelo in the 16th century
The Creation of Adam - one of the most famous subjects of the Sistine Chapel
Marble sculpture Laokoon and sons, made in the 1st century by the masters of Rhodes, in the Museum of Pio-Clementino
The famous alcove with a Pine cone Vatican, which called the court of the Pigna
The height of the dome of St. Peter Cathedral is 139 meters - it is the highest dome in the world
Tomb of St. Peter in the underground crypt of St. Peter Basilica in Rome
Pieta sculpture or the Mourning of Christ - one of Michelangelo`s earliest works, which he made at the age of 24
The chair of St. Peter in apse of St. Peter Cathedral in Rome
Equestrian sculpture of Charles the Great in St. Peter Basilica in Rome
The Baroque ensemble of St. Peter square was formed in the 17th century by architect Bernini
The Pope addresses to Catholics during prayer from window of this The Lateran Palace
The fresco of Michelangelo - the Fall and expulsion from Paradise in the Sistine chapel
The School of Athens - one of the masterpieces of Raphael in Stanza Raphael, Vatican Museum
The Room the fire in the Borgo, painted by Raphael in the Vatican Museum
The picture of the Transfiguration (Raphael, 1518) in the Vatican Pinacoteca
The picture Madonna di Foligno (Raphael, 1511) in the Vatican Pinacoteca
Giant porphyry bowl from the Golden Palace of Nero at the Pio-Clementino Museum in Vatican
Apollo Belvedere - Roman marble copy of 130 years from the bronze original of the work of Leohar (4 BC)
Apartment Borgia painted by artists Pinturicchio and Perugino (teacher of Raphael)
The hall of the Sibyls - the most famous room in the apartment Borgia in the Vatican
In the center of the court of Pinia in 1990 was established composition of The Golden Ball, sculptor Arnoldo Pomodoro
The statue of the baboon God Thoth from the temple of Karnak (1300 BC) to the Gregorian Egyptian Museum
Sarcophagus of Anet found at Deir El-Medina (1196 BC) to the Gregorian Egyptian Museum
Legal documents on clay plates from Mesopotamia (Ur, Northern Iraq, 2100 BC)