Vatican - Saint Peters square with fountain by night

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Vatican City is a landlocked sovereign city-state within the city of Rome. Its official name is The State of the Vatican City. It is the smallest country in the world. The area of Vatican is 0.44 square kilometers and the population is around 800 people.

The Vatican City was established on 11 February 1929 by the Lateran Treaty. It is often mistaken for the central authority of the Roman Catholic Church, known as the Holy See. However, there are not the same what is supported by several things, e.g. ordinances of Vatican City are published in Italian and official documents of the Holy See are issued mainly in Latin. Vatican City is a non-hereditary, elected monarchy that is ruled by the Bishop of Rome — the Pope.

The name "Vatican" is ancient and predates Christianity, coming from the Latin Mons Vaticanus, meaning Vatican Mount. The territory of Vatican City is part of the Mons Vaticanus, and of the adjacent former Vatican Fields, where St. Peter's Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel, and museums were built, along with various other buildings. Within the territory of the Vatican City are the Vatican Gardens (Italian: ‘Giardini Vaticani’), which account for more than half of this territory. The gardens were established during the Renaissance and Baroque era. They are beautifully decorated by fountains and sculptures. Vatican City is located in the west-central part of Rome, several hundred metres west of the Tiber River. Its borders (3.2 kilometres in total, all within Italy) closely follow the city wall constructed to protect the Pope from outside attack.

Citizenship of the Vatican City is granted iure officii, which means it is conferred upon some of those who have been appointed to work in certain capacities at the Vatican, and it is usually revoked upon the termination of their employment. Vatican citizens either live inside the Vatican's walls or serve in the Holy See's diplomatic service in embassies around the world. They are almost entirely of two groups: clergy, and the Swiss Guard. Vatican City has no set official language, (official language of the Holy See is Latin) so it uses Italian in its legislation and official communications. Italian is also the everyday language used by most of those who work in the state. In the Swiss Guard, German is the language used for giving commands, but the individual guards take their oath of loyalty in their own languages, German, French or Italian.

The Vatican City is itself of great cultural significance. In 1984, the Vatican was added by UNESCO to the List of World Heritage Sites.

Saint Peter's Square is the open space lying in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1656 to 1667, under the direction of Pope Alexander VII, so more people could see the Pope giving his blessings.

There are colossal Tuscan colonnades, four columns deep framing the trapezoidal entrance to the basilica and the massive elliptical area that precedes it. The colonnades define the piazza. At the center of the ellipse stands an Egyptian obelisk. It is made of red granite. The height of the obelisk is 25.5 meters. The obelisk, of the 13th century BC, was moved to Rome in AD 37 by the Emperor Caligula. It was moved to its current site in 1586 under the direction of Pope Sixtus V by the engineer-architect Domenico Fontana. The Vatican Obelisk is the only obelisk in Rome that has not toppled since ancient Roman times.

The paving of the square is varied by radiating lines in travertine, relieving the cobblestones. In 1817 circular stones were set to mark the tip of the obelisk's shadow at noon as the sun entered each of the signs of the zodiac, making the obelisk a gigantic sundial's gnomon.
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