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 Paolina, are closed to tourists.

In the fifth century, Pope Symmachus built a papal palace close to the Old St. Peter's Basilica which served an alternative residence to the Lateran Palace. The construction of a second fortified palace was sponsored by Pope Eugene III and extensively modified under Pope Innocent III in the twelfth century.

Upon returning to Rome in 1377 after the interlude of the Avignon Papacy, which saw Rome subject to civil unrest and the abandonment of several Christian monuments, the popes chose to reside first at Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere and then at Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. The Vatican Palace had fallen into disrepair from lack of upkeep and the Lateran Palace underwent two destructive fires, in 1307 and 1361, which did irreparable harm. In 1447, Pope Nicholas V razed the ancient fortified palace of Eugene III to erect a new building, the current Apostolic Palace.

In the 15th century, the Palace was placed under the authority of a prefect. This position of Apostolic Prefect lasted from the 15th century till the 1800s, when the Papal States fell into economic difficulties. In 1884, when this post was reviewed in light of saving money, Pope Leo XIII created a committee to administer the palace.

Construction of the Papal Palace at the Vatican in Vatican City, took place mainly between 1471 and 1605. The major additions and decorations of the palace are the work of the following popes for 150 years. Construction of the current version of the palace began on 30 April 1589 under Pope Sixtus V and its various intrinsic parts were completed by later successors, Pope Urban VII, Pope Innocent XI and Pope Clement VIII. In the 20th century, Pope Pius XI built a monumental art gallery and museum entrance.

Sistine Chapel

Perhaps the best known of the Palace chapels is the Sistine Chapel named in honor of Sixtus IV. It is famous for its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and others.

One of the primary functions of the chapel is as a venue for the election of each successive Pope in a conclave of the College of Cardinals. In this closed-door election, the cardinals choose a successor to the first pope, St. Peter, who has traditionally set up residence within the Apostolic Palace.

Raphael Rooms

This suite of rooms is famous for its frescos by a large team of artists working under Raphael. They were originally intended as a suite of apartments for Pope Julius II. He commissioned Raphael, then a relatively young artist from Urbino, and his studio in 1508 or 1509 to redecorate the existing interiors of the rooms entirely. It was possibly Julius' intent to outshine the apartments of his predecessor (and rival) Pope Alexander VI, as the Stanze are directly above Alexander's Borgia Apartments. They are on the third floor, overlooking the south side of the Belvedere Courtyard.

Borgia Apartments

The Borgia Apartments is a suite of rooms in the Palace adapted for personal use by Pope Alexander VI (Rodrígo de Borgia). He commissioned the Italian painter Pinturicchio to lavishly decorate the apartments with frescoes.

The paintings and frescoes, which were executed between 1492 and 1494, drew on a complex iconographic program that used themes from medieval encyclopedias, adding an eschatological layer of meaning and celebrating the supposedly divine origins of the Borgias.

Clementine Hall

The Clementine Hall was established in the 16th century by Pope Clement VIII in honor of Pope Clement I, the third pope. Like other chapels and apartments in the Palace, the hall is notable for its large collection of frescos and other art.



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Founded: 1471-1605
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Vatican City State

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jacob Loren (14 months ago)
We were taken from our parents by force and they killed them for us to sell us! We were related to Andre citroen, and other famous Jewish scientists! They used the Jewish families in Klausenburg Europe to bring their other families there to trap them, hurt them, force children to sell! How much does an Einstein baby go for in price? I was taken to an orphanage with hundreds of kids, Jewish like me but hurt to make us forget that! My sister was taken by a car caravans of Hungarian person to Hungary, the other to the US. I was hurt for many more years to try to make me forget those things! Hundreds of Jewish kids experimented on, bread, and sold by Hungarian and other persons in christuru secuiesc Transylvania. This was in the 80s! I remember hundreds of men being chased through creeck beds with rocks thrown at them, who I now know were the Jewish parents of those kids. They drilled into my hip bones for fluid to genetic test me in Pittsburgh PA, to find peculiar Genetics. I was made sick and I was hurt and children were forced from me. After that I was pushed through a government scientific research in Pittsburgh PA used yo terify me, and to scare my adoptive family away, along with anyone else who would help! Now, my children are taken from me and I have not seen them for 7 months, and I can be arrested for trying to contact them! I reached out to the FBI here, in fact I was taken to them after being brought to the US, yet it is still happening! I was even directed to the military in the US where I was questioned, yet it is still happening! I was even directed towards a girl claiming to be Jewish yet was in a bad way needing help, when I was in graduo school. Now, she denies all that! I have 3 kids, ages 6 and twins of age 3, and I'm terrified for them! A man forced his way into my home in Pittsburgh PA and harasy me for years, told me how well he was connected with security personnel in Pittsburgh PA, then told me "run Jew run!", after being brought up celebrating Christmas. I have been isolated from everyone, stripped financially so I cannot fight back, and my kids are taken from me in right in daylight, using the court, after I was horribly abused, made sick, so I cannot put up a fight and I can barely talk! I left a trail of reviews pleading for help! My children were born injured in the hands of criminals with security clearances wanting Einstein babies!
Bruno Lins (15 months ago)
Inside the Palace, there’s one of the Vatican’s most precious gems, the Paoline Chapel, Michelangelo’s last work.
Sr. Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP (2 years ago)
You have to know someone who works there, since it is the principal Vatican government building, housing the Secretariat of State and the pope's offices and reception rooms. So, so worth the visit! My favorite spot? The Pauline Chapel, with Michelangelo's frescoes of the conversion of Saul (St. Paul) and crucifixion of Peter. It's where the Cardinals who are to elect the pope begin their short procession into the Sistine Chapel for the conclave.
Master iOqY (2 years ago)
Pope Francis is one of the best popes in history after Pope John Paul II. I'm saying that as fact and I'm not even Catholic. Thanks for reaching out to other faiths and showing us how to live simply and serve.
Terry Bixler (2 years ago)
The pope speaks from his apartment window addressing those gathered on St. Peter's square for his convocation. Quite a scene to be there in person with so many people from so many different countries. High drama at St. Peter's.
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UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.

Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.