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Published: February 27th 2005
Disputes between a series of "prisoner" popes and Italy were resolved in 1929 by three Lateran Treaties, which established the independent state of Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. In 1984, a concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified certain of the earlier treaty provisions, including the primacy of Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion.
At 0.44sq km - The Holy See is the world's smallest country; but crammed in this tiny state are so many of the worlds treasures, and one of the most amazing museums I've ever visited. For the visitor there are two main buildings: St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museum. St Peter's Basilica
Massive church built on the burial place of St. Peter, work started on the Basilica in 1506, was taken over by Michelangelo in 1547 and completed in - well haven't found that out yet. Maybe someone will enlighten me in a comment. I climbed to the top of the dome, and looked over St Peter's Square and the rest of Rome, worth doing, but be prepared for 320 stairs and seemingly endless spirals. Vatican Museum
Incorporates the Sistine Chapel, but includes so many amazing frescos, sculptures, beautiful spaces from the world's master artists that it's hard to pick this one as a highlight. The Vatican kindly tolerates photographs of most of the artwork, but requests that people turn off the flash - which is generally respected but still some idiots pay no attention. We were lucky enough to visit on
the last Sunday of February, so entry was free, unfortunately the queue was enormous, we were really surprised to queue only for an hour, in the summer I imagine that this is not the case. Artists whose work is included are: Michelangelo, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio and Signorelli, but I confess that most of the time I had no idea what I was looking at, just wandered round in some kind of stupefied awe for 2 hours, finally entered the Sistine Chapel and tried to keep my jaw from hitting the ground.
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