Vatican City Tours

About the Vatican City

The name ‘Vatican’ dates back pre-Christ, with land across the Tiber river having been nominated thus at least by the time of the Roman Republic. The area was already considered sacred at this time, with Pagan altars, monuments and tombs having been placed here.

Over time, it became a popular area also amongst Christians and indeed, St Peter visited the area upon his arrival to Rome.

St Peter was considered the first Pope of the Catholic Church. He was eventually crucified as a martyr on the Vatican site around 64-67. At around this time, his role was assumed by Pope Linus. Whilst the role and function has evolved somewhat over time, today Pope Francis is the 266th Pope to rule over the Christian state of Vatican City.


From the time of St Peter’s arrival, we have the formation of the Holy See, the jurisdictional and governing body of the Catholic Church. A few decades later, in the early 300s, the area saw the construction of St Peter’s Basilica.

Eventually the Vatican City site grew to house more power and more property. Popes accumulated additional territories, establishing Papal States in various parts of Italy and beyond. They took on secular political positions in the Roman government, battled wars over land disputes and managed to accumulate great wealth and power.


The ruling Popes did not always have their residence at the Vatican City however, living instead in other Roman palaces and even in Avignon, France, for some decades.

Upon unification under the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, Pius IX returned to lay claim to the Vatican State lands. All satellite territories within the peninsula fell to the Kingdom of Italy, as the Holy See ceded all bar Vatican City.

And here arose the great “Roman question”.

In essence, the Roman Question was a debate about what – if any – of the enclave within Rome was to be held by the Holy See and what was to fall under the command of the Kingdom of Italy. To maintain hold on the Vatican City property, Popes and other clergy remained holed up inside for 59 years until the questione romana was answered

In 1929, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty, ratified as an agreement to settle the political dispute that arose after the unification of Italy in 1861.

Whilst all secular power the Pope had held was lost, the Vatican State was recognised as the sovereign territory of the Holy See. The Holy See has “full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction” over Vatican City State.

Today, Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world, with a population of less than 850 people living in a space of just 44 hectares. Most Vatican City inhabitants are Catholic clergy from around the world.

Predominantly due to lack of space within the Vatican City walls, foreign embassies to the Vatican are located throughout Rome, although some were permitted within the walls during  World War II.

Inside the Vatican City walls is the Vatican Museums, showcasing artworks accumulated by the church. The Vatican Museums collection dates back to the early 1500s and is today number five on the list of the world’s most visited museums of art.

The first piece added to the Vatican Museum collection was an excavated sculpture, Laocoön and His Sons, that likely dated back to 27 BC and 68 AD, unearthed in Rome in 1506  before being placed on display as the Vatican Museums first artwork just one month later.

Two years later, Michelangelo commenced the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. Around the same time, Raphael was commissioned to work on the Stanze della Segnatura.

Today, the Vatican Museums house 54 galleries showcasing some of the world’s most precious artworks.

Vatican City has its own economy, earning income from ticket sales to the Vatican Museum, the selling of publications and souvenirs, as well as official Vatican postage stamps and even commemorative coins from its own currency.

The Vatican City has its own communications services (including its own radio station), as well as health and security departments.


We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. View more
Cookies settings
Privacy & Cookie policy
Privacy & Cookies policy
Cookie name Active

Privacy Policy

EU's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on May 25, 2018. We want to let you know we’ve updated our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions

Information about the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

We inform you that for the establishment and execution of the contract with you, when you book one of our services our organization comes into possession of some of your data, also acquired verbally, qualified as personal by the European Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR).According to the law, this treatment will be based on principles of correctness, lawfulness, transparency and protection of your privacy. According to article 13 of the GDPR 2016/679, therefore, we provide you with the following information: Nature of the data processed:We process your data:• Anagraphic, fiscal and of an economic nature necessary for the performance of contractual relationships with you, whether current or future;• Spontaneously supplied by you for the personalized execution of the current or future contract, bearing in mind that there is no obligation on your part to supply them. The data are processed with your express consent (Article 24 letter a, b, c Privacy Code and Article 6 letter b, and GDPR) accepting - with a click in the box at the end of the completion of the form - the terms and conditions of the service we perform.All data will be used solely and exclusively to fulfill:• Pre-contractual, contractual, post-contractual and tax obligations arising from relationships with you;• To the obligations established by law, regulations, community legislation or an order of the Authority.We are not in possession of your data that can be classified as sensitive, particular or of a judicial nature (articles 9 and 10 of the GDPR). Purpose of the processing and duration:Your data are processed for the entire duration of the relationship contract and also subsequently, for contractual requirements and related fulfillment of legal obligations and taxation, and for effective management of financial and commercial relationships. The Data Controller will process personal data for the time necessary to fulfill the aforementioned purposes and in any case for no more than 10 years from the termination of the relationship for the purposes of service. Methods of processing: The processing will be carried out with both manual and / or computerized tools telematics with organizational and elaboration logistics closely related to the purposes themselves and however in order to guarantee the security, integrity and confidentiality of the data in compliance with the organizational, physical and logical measures provided for by the provisions in force. Obligation or right to provide data:As regards the data that we are obliged to know, in order to fulfill the obligations established by law, their non-conferment by you involves the impossibility of establishing or continuing the relationship, to the extent that such data are necessary for execution of the same. Scope of knowledge of your data: The following categories of subjects may become aware of your data, as managers or processors, appointed by the undersigned company:• Data controller;• Accounting and billing staff;• Those involved in the marketing and execution of services. Communication and dissemination:Your data will not be disseminated to third parties by us for their provision or consultation.Your data may be communicated by us to entities, as far as their respective and specific competence is concerned and in general to any public or private entity with respect to which there is obligation for us (or faculty) recognized by law or secondary or community legislation) or need for communication, as well as to our consultants, within the limits necessary to carry out their duties at our office organization, after our letter of appointment imposing the duty of confidentiality and security. Rights of the interested party: In accordance with Art. 7 of Legislative Decree 196/03 of the Articles of the GDPR 679/16: 15 / Right of access, 16 / Right of rectification, 17 / Right to cancellation, 18 / Right to limitation of treatment, 20 / Right to portability, 21 / Opposition right, 22 / Right to oppose the automated decision-making process of GDPR679 / 16. You can exercise your rights by writing to the Data Controller with an email to: [email protected] Withdrawal of consent: With reference to Art. 23 of Legislative Decree 196/03 and Article 6 of GDPR 679/16, you can revoke the consent given at any time. Owner and manager of the treatment: The data controller is PIER CARLO TESTA, Director of the company "The Original & Best Walking Tours" with registered office in Via Sassetti 1 in Florence (Italy). The Data Processor, who can be contacted to exercise  rights and / or for any clarificationsregarding the protection of personal data, can be reached at: [email protected]
Save settings
Cookies settings

a virtual trip to tuscany

Sign up here to receive your free link to the online event, December 6th at 7pm CET