Vatican City , officially the Vatican City State (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano; Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae), is the Holy See's independent city state, an enclave within Rome, Italy. The Vatican City State, also known as The Vatican, became independent from Italy with the Lateran Treaty (1929), and it is a distinct territory under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See, itself a sovereign entity of international law, which maintains the city state's temporal, diplomatic, and spiritual independence. With an area of 49 hectares (121 acres) and a population of about 825, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.
As governed by the Holy See, the Vatican City State is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state (a type of theocracy) ruled by the pope who is the bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. After the Avignon Papacy (1309-1437), the popes have mainly resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.
The Apostolic Palace
is the official residence of the Pope
, which is located in Vatican City
. It is also known as the Sacred Palace
, the Papal Palace
and the Palace of the Vatican
. The Vatican itself refers to the building as the Palace of Sixtus V
in honor of Pope Sixtus V
The palace is more accurately a series of self-contained buildings within the well-recognised outer structure which is arranged around the Courtyard of Sixtus V (Cortile di Sisto V). It is located North-East of St Peters Basilica and adjacent to the Bastion of Nicholas V and Palace of Gregory XIII.
Rather than a traditional palace (a residential building surrounded by support buildings) the Apostolic Palace houses both residential apartments and support offices of various functions as well as administrative offices not focused on the life and functions of the Pope himself.
The building contains the Papal Apartments, various government offices of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy See, private and public chapels, Vatican Museums and the Vatican library, including the Borgia Apartment now used to house artworks.
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A post-restoration section of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which includes the two panels reproduced above.
The restoration of the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel was one of the most significant art restorations of the 20th century. The Sistine Chapel was built by Pope Sixtus IV within the Vatican immediately to the north of St. Peter's Basilica and completed in about 1481. Its walls were decorated by a number of Renaissance painters who were among the most highly regarded artists of late 15th century Italy, including Ghirlandaio, Perugino, and Botticelli. The Chapel was further enhanced under Pope Julius II by the painting of the ceiling by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 and by the painting of the Last Judgment, commissioned by Pope Clement VII and completed in 1541, again by Michelangelo. The tapestries on the lowest tier, today best known from the Raphael Cartoons (painted designs) of 1515–16, completed the ensemble.
Together the paintings make up the greatest pictorial scheme of the Renaissance. Individually, some of Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling are among the most notable works of western art ever created. The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and in particular the ceiling and accompanying lunettes by Michelangelo have been subject to a number of restorations, the most recent taking place between 1980 and 1994. This most recent restoration had a profound effect on art lovers and historians, as colours and details that had not been seen for centuries were revealed.