Vatican City, officially known as the Vatican City State, is an independent city-state in Rome, Italy. It is the world's smallest internationally recognized independent state, both in terms of area and population. Vatican City is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, and it holds great religious, cultural, and historical significance.
Geographically, Vatican City covers an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres) and is located on the west bank of the Tiber River, just to the north of Rome's city center. It is surrounded by high walls and is accessed through various entrances. The city-state is an enclave within Rome, meaning it is surrounded by Italian territory but is not part of it.
The Vatican is led by the Pope, who serves as the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope resides in the Apostolic Palace, a majestic building within the city-state that serves as the official residence and workplace of the Pope. The palace also houses various administrative offices, chapels, and the Vatican Museums, renowned for their vast collection of art and historical artifacts.
One of the most iconic landmarks within Vatican City is St. Peter's Basilica, the world's largest Christian church. It is in St. Peter's Square, a grand plaza where thousands gather to witness critical religious ceremonies and events. The basilica is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and is famous for its dome, designed by Michelangelo.
In addition to St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City has numerous other significant buildings and landmarks. These include the Vatican Gardens, a beautifully landscaped area covering a large portion of the city-state, the Vatican Library, which houses a vast collection of ancient manuscripts and books; and the Sistine Chapel, renowned for its frescoes, most notably Michelangelo's ceiling masterpiece.
Vatican City is also known for its role as a pilgrimage site for Catholics worldwide. Many visitors attend papal audiences, participate in religious ceremonies, or explore the rich history and cultural heritage preserved within its walls.