Behind the Walls: Life Inside Vatican City

Vatican City

Behind the Walls: Life Inside the Vatican City

The Vatican City, a sovereign city-state surrounded by Rome, Italy, is not just the spiritual heart of the Catholic Church but also a place of rich history, art, and culture. Behind the iconic walls of the Vatican lie secrets, treasures, and a unique way of life that few are privileged to witness. In this article, we'll explore what goes on behind those walls and the life inside the Vatican City.

The Vatican's Unique Status

The Vatican City, with its 44 hectares of land, is the smallest independent state in the world. Established as an independent city-state in 1929 with the Lateran Treaty, it serves as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope, the spiritual leader of over a billion Catholics, resides in the Vatican, making it the center of the Christian world.

The Papal Residence

The Apostolic Palace, commonly known as the Papal Palace, is the residence of the Pope. Within this vast complex, the Pope has his living quarters, private chapel, and even a small garden. The Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo's ceiling, is also part of the Apostolic Palace and serves as the location for papal conclaves.

Art and Culture

The Vatican City is renowned for its remarkable art and cultural treasures. The Vatican Museums house an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Caravaggio. Visitors from all over the world come to admire these masterpieces, which are meticulously preserved within the Vatican's walls.

The Swiss Guard

Protecting the Vatican City is the Swiss Guard, one of the smallest and oldest military forces in the world. Their distinctive Renaissance-style uniforms and halberds make them instantly recognizable. Beyond their ceremonial role, the Swiss Guard is responsible for the security of the Pope and the Vatican, a duty they take with the utmost seriousness.

The Vatican Gardens

The Vatican Gardens are a serene oasis hidden within the city-state's walls. These beautifully landscaped gardens are not open to the public but can be viewed from the Vatican Museums or by taking guided tours. They provide a peaceful escape for the Pope and a place for reflection and meditation.

Vatican City's Residents

Vatican City is not just a place of worship and tourism; it's also home to around 800 residents. These include clergy, members of the Swiss Guard, and various other employees who help run the Vatican's day-to-day operations. The city-state also has its postal service, pharmacy, and a radio station.

State of Independence

The Vatican City operates as an independent state with its own government, legal system, and even a postal service. It mints its own coins, issues its own stamps, and has a unique flag. The Vatican's sovereignty is upheld by the Holy See, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican's Role in the World

While the Vatican City is small in terms of land and population, its influence extends far beyond its borders. It plays a vital role in diplomacy, mediating conflicts, and advocating for peace. The Pope's messages often carry significant weight on global issues, making the Vatican a key player on the international stage.


The Vatican City, with its rich history, art, culture, and spiritual significance, is a unique and enigmatic place. Behind the walls of this small city-state lies a world of tradition, faith, and intrigue that continues to capture the imagination of people from all corners of the globe.

Vatican City: Saint Peter's Basilica Digital Audioguide

Explore the remarkable history and artistry of the Vatican with a visit to the iconic St. Peter's Basilica. Discover invaluable works from the Papal collections.

About this Ticket

Free cancellation: Cancel your booking up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund.

Reserve now & pay later: Secure your spot and pay later, ensuring flexibility in your travel plans.

Covid-19 precautions: Stringent health and safety measures are in place; check your activity voucher for full details.


2 hours

Audio guide languages

Available in: Spanish, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian


Uncover the history of St. Peter's Basilica with a mobile audio guide, allowing you to explore at your own pace. Download the guide to your smartphone for maximum flexibility. Visit St. Peter's tomb and explore the original basilica walls while gaining insight into their significance. Immerse yourself in the intersection of art and religion at this iconic landmark.

Full Description

Embark on a captivating journey through the history and architecture of St. Peter's Basilica with a 60-minute audio-guided tour on your smartphone. This majestic Basilica, commissioned by Pope Julius II in the 16th century, is built on the believed burial site of Saint Peter, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Learn about the construction of its remarkable dome, a triumph of Renaissance engineering, and marvel at the oculus that bathes the interior in celestial light. Explore the renowned tombs within the basilica, where many popes and notable figures find their final resting place.

With 27 listening points and a handy digital map, the audio tour will lead you through the basilica's significant features, from ornate decorations to intricate mosaic artwork. Gain insight into the symbolism and historical context behind the exquisite pavement beneath your feet.

Whether you're an art enthusiast, a history buff, or a spiritual seeker, this audio-guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica provides a comprehensive and engaging experience. Immerse yourself in the grandeur and cultural significance of this iconic masterpiece.


- Smartphone audio guide

- Self-guided Vatican tour

- Headsets

- Live guide

Meeting Point

You can proceed directly to St. Peter's Basilica at your convenience; there is no specific meeting point. Upon booking, you will receive a QR code to download the audio guide track, allowing you to visit the Basilica at your preferred time without fixed schedules.

Important Information

What to bring:

- Headphones

- Charged Smartphone

Not allowed:

- Shorts

- Weapons or sharp objects

- Luggage or large bags

- Short skirts

- Sleeveless shirts

Know before you go:

- Expect airport-style security for all visitors, with potential wait times of up to 120 minutes during peak season.

- This is a digital experience; you will receive a link to download the app and content upon booking.

- St. Peter’s Basilica and the Square may be closed in the morning during Papal Audience events, typically on Wednesdays and Sundays.

- Opening hours are subject to change due to special events at the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. Normally, St. Peter's Basilica is open from 8:00 to 18:00.

- Entry to the Basilica is free of charge; no entrance ticket is required. Please adhere to the dress code (no shorts, vests, or sleeveless tops) for access to St. Peter’s Basilica.


From $6.30 per person

The Secrets of the Clergy: Unveiling the Vatican's Hidden Mysteries

The Vatican, the spiritual heart of the Catholic Church, has long been a place of intrigue, mystery, and tradition. Within its hallowed walls, the clergy, consisting of priests, bishops, and cardinals, have preserved and guarded the secrets that have been passed down through generations. These secrets, which form a tapestry of history, theology, and politics, have captivated the imagination of scholars, conspiracy theorists, and the curious alike.

While the Vatican is an institution known for its transparency in some matters, it is also known for its penchant for secrecy. The Vatican Archives, a vast repository of historical documents and manuscripts, is one such source of intrigue. It is said to hold countless secrets, hidden away from the prying eyes of the public for centuries. These secrets range from historical accounts of the Church's dealings with monarchs and governments to theological debates that could reshape the understanding of the Catholic faith.

The Vatican Archives: A Treasure Trove of Secrets

One of the most enduring mysteries of the Vatican is the content of its archives. While the Vatican has made efforts in recent years to open some portions of the archives to scholars and researchers, a significant portion remains classified. This secrecy has fueled numerous speculations about what might be hidden within those hallowed halls.

Historians and researchers have long been fascinated by the Vatican's role in world events throughout history. From its involvement in the Renaissance to its influence in political affairs, the Vatican's secrets could potentially rewrite history books. There are theories that suggest the Vatican holds documents revealing its stance during the World Wars, its relationships with prominent historical figures, and perhaps even evidence of extraterrestrial life.

The Vatican's Role in Shaping History

The Vatican has played a pivotal role in shaping the course of history. From the creation of the Papal States in the 8th century to the signing of the Lateran Treaty in 1929, the Vatican's political influence has been felt worldwide. These events are not without their mysteries, such as the negotiations and agreements that led to the establishment of the Vatican City as an independent state.

Additionally, the role of the Vatican in the suppression of certain scientific discoveries and the Inquisition's persecution of heretics has long been a subject of historical debate. Unveiling the secrets behind these actions could provide a deeper understanding of the Church's relationship with knowledge and power throughout the centuries.

Theological Controversies and Doctrinal Secrets

While the Vatican is a symbol of religious unity, it is not immune to internal theological debates and controversies. Some of the secrets that have intrigued theologians and scholars revolve around doctrinal disputes, papal decisions, and theological deliberations that occurred behind closed doors.

One such theological mystery is the question of the "Third Secret of Fatima." It is said that the Virgin Mary revealed three secrets to three Portuguese children in 1917, and while the first two were revealed in 1941, the third remained a closely guarded secret until 2000. What was contained in that secret? Some believe it foretold major events in the 20th century, including the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.

Conspiracy Theories and the Vatican

Given the aura of secrecy surrounding the Vatican, it's not surprising that it has become a focal point for various conspiracy theories. These range from claims of hidden treasures and ancient relics to allegations of covert operations and shadowy organizations operating within the Church.

One of the most famous conspiracy theories is the existence of the Illuminati within the Vatican. While this claim lacks concrete evidence, it has persisted for centuries, drawing connections between the Catholic Church and the alleged secret society. The Vatican's influence on global affairs and its opulent surroundings have only fueled these speculations.

The Quest for Truth

While the Vatican's secrets continue to intrigue and captivate the world, the quest for truth is ongoing. As the Church takes steps to make its history more accessible, some of the mysteries that have shrouded it for centuries may finally come to light. However, there will always be secrets that remain hidden, for it is the nature of institutions to hold some things close to their chests.

In the end, the secrets of the clergy and the Vatican are a testament to the enduring power of history, religion, and the human fascination with the unknown. Whether fact or fiction, they continue to shape our perception of one of the world's oldest and most influential institutions.

Discover St. Peter's Basilica: Dome Climb and Crypt

Explore the iconic St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, immersing yourself in its rich history and architectural marvels. Ascend 231 steps to reach the pinnacle of the dome, granting breathtaking panoramic views of Rome.


Experience the serenity of St. Peter's Square before the bustling crowds arrive. Ascend the dome and witness the intricate mosaics up close. Marvel at art and architecture within the basilica, including renowned works by Bernini and Michelangelo. Conclude your visit with a contemplative exploration of the papal crypt.


Embark on an enriching journey through St. Peter's Basilica and its famed dome, delving into the heart of this significant religious monument. Begin early, embracing the sacred ambiance of St Peter’s Square. Ascend the dome, using a special elevator to the first terrace, offering an intimate view of the mosaics. Further ascend to the top for an expansive vista of Rome. A guided tour through the basilica provides insights into its artistic and historical significance, featuring masterpieces like Bernini’s baldachin and Michelangelo’s "Pietá." The exploration culminates with a visit to the papal crypt, allowing for personal reflection.

Meeting Point and Details

Meet your guide in front of Caffè Leonina, at Piazza Citta' Leonina, just outside St. Peter's Square. Look for the "Walks" sign held by your guide for easy identification.

Important Information

For your visit, remember to bring a valid passport or ID card. Certain items such as shorts, baby strollers, short skirts, and sleeveless shirts are not permitted. Please be aware of possible visitation restrictions and unexpected closures due to Vatican affairs or unforeseen circumstances.

Customer Reviews

With an impressive overall rating of 4.7/5 based on 1152 reviews, visitors praise the knowledgeable guides, efficient transportation, great service, and seamless organization.

Massimo, our guide, stood out for his informative yet engaging tour, allowing ample time for exploration and photography. The early morning slot offers a serene experience, with Sara as a passionate and knowledgeable host. Despite a bustling rendezvous point, the tour proceeds smoothly, led by Sev, and culminates in an awe-inspiring climb to the dome.

Architectural Wonders of the Vatican

The Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy, is not only a spiritual and administrative center for the Roman Catholic Church but also a treasure trove of architectural marvels. Steeped in history and culture, the Vatican boasts an array of breathtaking structures that have captivated visitors for centuries. In this article, we will explore the architectural wonders of the Vatican and the rich stories they tell.

St. Peter's Basilica

One of the most iconic landmarks in the Vatican is St. Peter's Basilica, a magnificent Renaissance-era church designed primarily by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The dome, designed by Michelangelo, is a crowning achievement of architecture and engineering. St. Peter's Basilica stands as a symbol of grandeur, with its stunning facade, intricate marble work, and a stunning array of statues and art.

The Sistine Chapel

Renowned worldwide for Michelangelo's frescoes on its ceiling, the Sistine Chapel is a sacred masterpiece. The architectural elements of the chapel are often overshadowed by the art it houses. Still, the structure itself, designed by Baccio Pontelli and Giovannino de Dolci, features a harmonious blend of Renaissance and Gothic architectural styles. Its significance extends beyond its aesthetic appeal, as it is the location of the papal conclave.

The Apostolic Palace

The Apostolic Palace, also known as the Papal Palace, is a sprawling complex of buildings that serve as the official residence of the Pope. This architectural marvel consists of numerous chapels, libraries, and apartments, each with its unique historical and artistic significance. The Renaissance-era Palace of Sixtus V, the Borgia Apartment, and the Vatican Museums are all integral parts of this vast architectural ensemble.

The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are a treasure trove of art and history, housed within a complex of buildings that include the historic Cortile Belvedere and Cortile della Pigna. The museums are celebrated not only for their vast collections but also for their architectural splendor. The Raphael Rooms, designed by Raphael himself, are a highlight within the museums, featuring intricate frescoes and elegant architectural details.

The Apostolic Library

The Vatican Apostolic Library is an architectural and intellectual marvel. Founded by Pope Nicholas V, this library is a repository of countless ancient manuscripts and texts. The architecture of the library, designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, showcases a beautiful blend of Renaissance and Baroque elements. It stands as a testament to the Vatican's commitment to preserving knowledge and culture.

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is a vast open space in front of St. Peter's Basilica. Its stunning colonnades, symbolizing the embracing arms of the church, encircle the square. The square is a place of immense religious and architectural significance, serving as a gathering point for pilgrims and visitors from around the world, especially during papal events.

The Vatican Gardens

Hidden within the Vatican City, the Vatican Gardens are a tranquil oasis. They occupy nearly half of the entire city-state and feature meticulously landscaped greenery, fountains, and a variety of architectural elements. These gardens are not typically open to the public, making them a serene and secluded part of Vatican architecture.


The Vatican is not only a religious center but a testament to the enduring power of architectural vision and design. These architectural wonders, with their rich history and timeless beauty, continue to inspire and awe visitors from around the world. Each building and structure within the Vatican City tells a unique story, reflecting the evolution of architectural styles and the enduring influence of the Catholic Church on art and culture.

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