Vatican City State (Vatican) is the Holy See’s independent city state, an enclave within Rome, Italy. 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. Within the Vatican City are religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter’s Basilica (map), the *Sistine Chapel (map), and the Vatican Museums (map). They feature some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures.
The largest numbers of pilgrims visit Vatican City at special moments in the liturgical year, such as Christmas or Easter, or during important periods such as the proclamation of a holy year or the funeral and election of a pope.
With 109 acres (44 hectares) within its walls, the Vatican is easily traveled by foot; however, most of this area is inaccessible to most tourists. The most popular areas open to tourists are the St. Peter’s Basilica and Square and the Vatican Museums.
Because of the dense crowds of dazzled tourists, St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel are favorite spots for pickpocketers, who clearly don’t buy into the whole ‘Purgatory’ thing, or else believe their sins will be forgiven. Keep an eye on your belongings throughout your trip to the Vatican—even tour guides occasionally get pickpocketed here.