The Vatican

Papal States and the smallest country in the world

The Vatican, the centre of Catholic Christianity and the smallest country in the world, is located on Monte Vaticano, the Vatican Hill. It became the highest authority of Christianity not before the 15th Century and is now one of the main attractions in Rome. The Vatican today covers 0.44 km2 – the Head of State of the 900 inhabitants is the Pope himself, who forms the government along with his cardinals.

The Vatican St. Peter's Basilica and square

The history of the Vatican

The Vatican is named after the Monte Vaticano, the Vatican Hill. Already in the 7th Century A.D., the popes in Rome were given the territory in central Italy in the donation of Pippin by the Frankish King Pippin, father of Charlemagne. The church leader was thus also a secular ruler. For a long time, the popes ruled from the Lateran Palace next to Rome's highest church, St. John Lateran, the fortunes of the state. Only since the 15th Century has St. Peter’s Basilica and thus the Vatican gained in importance and become the supreme authority of the Papal States.

The Vatican Papal coat of arms

The smallest country in the world

With the unification of Italy in 1870, the Vatican was deprived of all worldly goods and the Pope considered himself a prisoner in Italy. Only Mussolini could make peace in 1929 and consecrated a sovereign state for the Pope in the Lateran Treaty. The Vatican is with a size of 0.44 km2 the smallest country in the world. It has about 900 inhabitants (including 200 women) and 1,300 employees. Its total surface is essentially the Vatican with Saint Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square and some extra-territorial possessions as the churches of St. John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Paolo fuori le Mura, the papal administration buildings and the summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. The white line in front of St. Peter's Square marks the state border between the Vatican and the Republic of Italy.

The Vatican Swiss Guard

Political structure of the Vatican

The Pope is the head of state of the Vatican and unites the legislative, executive and judicial powers in his hands. Together with a committee of cardinals, he exercises the power of government over various state organs. The Vatican also has its own coinage, a post office, its own magazine, a helipad, a railway station, a radio station, a car park and is not subject to Italian laws. The state flag of the Vatican is yellow, white, vertically split and contains the papal coat of arms with two crossed keys and a three-tiered tiara in the white area. The police of the Vatican "Vigilanza" and the Swiss Guard ensure the safety of the Pope and compliance with the laws. The Swiss Guard consists of exactly 100 unmarried and Catholic men from Switzerland between 19 and 25 years. There are 4 officers, 1 chaplain, 25 sergeants and 70 halberdiers, who are all dressed in the Renaissance uniforms of the Medici popes.

Forgot your login details?
Not registered yet?

Register with ZAINOO for free!

Please indicate your e-mail address!

You are not logged in!

To log in, just click on the “Login” button, on the top right-hand side of the screen, and enter your ZAINOO login data.

Not registered yet? Then become a member of our travel community for free and get numerous benefits:

  • Save and modify your tours
  • Rate sights
  • Leave tips and comments
Register here
Zainoo Italien

How do I plan my journey?

Choose your destination/your attractions

Use the map, search or navigation function to choose your desired destination/attraction and click on the “Add to journey” button.

My journey

Finalise your itinerary

My journey

Click on the “My journey” button and put the sights into the desired order with drag-and-drop. Select any additional information, take a last look at your route and let’s go.

Take your personal itinerary with you

You’ve completed your itinerary – what’s next? Simply print, download, send it by e-mail or download an e-book for your mobile phone and you are ready for your next trip.


ZAINOO registered users can save their itineraries and extend or re-use them later at any time.

Register now!

Zainoo is and will remain free.

My journey

No personal destinations or attractions were added to your journey!

No idea how to do it? You will find exact instructions for your individual travel planning under the button „Plan a journey“.

The Vatican
The destination/sight was added to your journey!