Centred on the domed bulk of St Peter’s Basilica and Piazza San Pietro, it is the capital of the Catholic world, a spiritual superpower whose law is gospel to the world’s one billion Catholics.
The flamboyantly dressed Swiss Guards were founded in 1506 by Julius II to defend the Papal States against invading armies and are still today responsible for the pope’s personal security.
The Vatican’s current look is the culmination of more than 1000 years of chipping and chopping.
The Leonine walls date to 846, when Pope Leo IV had them put up after a series of Saracen raids, while the Vatican palace, now home to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, was originally constructed by Pope Eugenius III in the 12th century.
Subsequent popes extended, fortified and decorated it according to their political and artistic whims.
The original 4th-century St Peter’s Basilica was almost entirely rebuilt in the 16th century by a phalanx of Renaissance greats – Bramante, Raphael, Antonio da Sangallo and Michelangelo.
Later Giacomo della Porta and Carlo Maderno added further contributions.
Outside, Piazza San Pietro was designed by the baroque genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Yes, yes, I know that all of you want to go inside.
Nopi wants to see the Pieta.
Sita wants to see the Sistine Chapelut guys you know that we are really pressed for time, so we will have to move on.