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 Lateran Treaty is one of the Lateran Pacts of 1929 or Lateran Accords, agreements made in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, and ratified June 7, 1929, ending the "Roman Question". Italy was then under a Fascist government; the succeeding Italian governments have all upheld the treaty.
The pacts consisted of two documents, with four annexes:
- A political treaty recognising the full sovereignty of the Holy See in the State of Vatican City, which was thereby established, a document accompanied by the annexes:
- A plan of the territory of the Vatican City State
- A list and plans of the buildings with extraterritorial privilege and exemption from expropriation and taxes
- A list and plans of the buildings with exemption from expropriation and taxes
- A financial convention agreed on as a definitive settlement of the claims of the Holy See following the loss of its territories and property
- A concordat regulating relations between the Catholic Church and the Italian state
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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.