Top Historic Sights in Vatican, Vatican City State

Explore the historic highlights of Vatican

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel in the Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope. Originally known as the Cappella Magna, the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. Since that time, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected. The fame of the Sistine Chap ...
Founded: 1477 | Location: Vatican, Vatican City State

St. Peter's Basilica

Saint Peter"s Basilica is the center of Christianity in Vatican city state. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter"s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and one of the largest churches in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter"s is regarded ...
Founded: 1506-1626 | Location: Vatican, Vatican City State

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter"s Square (Piazza San Pietro) is a large plaza located directly in front of St. Peter"s Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave inside Rome, directly west of the neighbourhood or rione of Borgo. At the centre of the square is an ancient Egyptian obelisk, erected at the current site in 1586. It was made of red granite and is 25.5 metres tall. The obelisk was originally erected at Heliopolis, Egy ...
Founded: 1656-1667 | Location: Vatican, Vatican City State

Vatican Historical Museum

The Vatican Historical Museum is one of the sections of the Vatican Museums. It was founded in 1973 at the behest of Pope Paul VI, and was initially hosted in environments under the Square Garden. In 1987 it was moved to the main floor of the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran and opened in March 1991. The Vatican Historical Museum has a unique collection of portraits of the Popes from the 16th century to date, the memorabl ...
Founded: 1973 | Location: Vatican, Vatican City State

Apostolic Palace

The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope. The building contains the Papal Apartments, various offices of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, private and public chapels, Vatican Museums, and the Vatican Library, including the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, and Borgia Apartment. The modern tourist can see these last and other parts of the palace, but other parts, such as the Sala Regia and Cappella Paoli ...
Founded: 1471-1605 | Location: Vatican, Vatican City State

St. Stephen of the Abyssinians Church

St Stephen of the Abyssinians is a Roman Catholic church located in Vatican City. The church dedicated to Stephen the Protomartyr is the national church of Ethiopia. The liturgy is celebrated according to the Alexandrian rite of the Ethiopian Catholic Church. It is one of the only standing structures in the Vatican to survive the destruction of old St. Peter"s basilica, and thus it is the oldest surviving church in V ...
Founded: 1159 | Location: Vatican, Vatican City State

Vatican Apostolic Library

The Vatican Apostolic Library was formally established in 1475, although it is much older. It is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical texts. It currently has 75,000 codices from throughout history, as well as 1.1 million printed books, which include some 8,500 incunabula. The Vatican Library is a research library for history, law, philosophy, science ...
Founded: 1475 | Location: Vatican, Vatican City State

Vatican Gardens

The Vatican Gardens have been a place of quiet and meditation for the popes since 1279 when Nicholas III moved his residence back to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace. Within the new walls, which he had built to protect his residence, he planted an orchard (pomerium), a lawn (pratellum) and a garden (viridarium). Created around the hill of Saint Egidio (where the Palazzetto del Belvedere is located today) and the court ...
Founded: 1279 | Location: Vatican, Vatican City State

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Soave Castle

Soave castle was built in 934 to protect the area against the Hungarian invasions. It was remodelled by Cansignorio of the Scaliger family in the mid-1300s. in 1365 Cansignorio had the town walls erected and the Town hall was built in the same year.

The castle underwent various vicissitudes until, having lost its strategic importance, it was sold on the private market in 1596. In 1830 it was inherited by Giulio Camuzzoni who restored the manor and in particular the surroundings walls (with is twenty-four towers), the battlements and living-quarters.

Soave castle is a typical medieval military edifice, commanding the neighbourhood of the city from the Tenda Hill. It comprises a mastio (donjon) and three lines of walls forming three courts of different size. The outer line, with a gate and a draw bridge, is the most recent, built by the Venetians in the 15th century. It houses the remains of a small church from the 10th century.

The second and larger court, the first of the original castle, is called della Madonna for a fresco portraying St. Mary (1321). Another fresco is visible after the door leading to the inner court, and portrays a Scaliger soldier. The mastio is the most impressive feature of the castle. Bones found within showed it was used also as prison and place of torture.

The House called del Capitano (the Scaliger commander) houses Roman coins, weapons parts, medals and other ancient remains found during the most recent restoration. Adjacent is a bedroom with a 13th-century fresco with St. Mary and Madeleine and a dining room with medieval kitchenware. Another room houses the portraits of the most famous Scaliger figures: Mastino I, Cangrande, Cansignorio and Taddea da Carrara, wife of Mastino II; the portrait of Dante Alighieri testify an alleged sojourn of the poet in the castle.