Vatican City, surrounded by Rome, is the central authority of the Catholic Church. The smallest sovereign state in the world yet home to the biggest church, every corner is affected and informed by the presence of the Pope. As an independent state, the Vatican has its own currency, newspaper and army of Swiss mercenary guards, making it a fascinating place to visit whilst in Rome.
The Basilica of St Peter was laid out in 1656-67 and was subsequently added to by Maderno and Michelangelo. Climb to the top on a clear day for exceptional views or marvel at its imposing scale, ornate decorations and intricate art works, including breath-taking sculpture and paintings. There are other masterpieces in the Belvedere Courtyard.
The Sistine Chapel, located in the Palace of the Vatican houses Michelangelo's famous and exquisite frescoes; it's impossible not to be astounded by the beauty of the ceiling, even as you crane your neck to take in the detail. Explore the Vatican museums and Vatican library to see the volume of treasures stored here and more than a million bound books. The Vatican gardens date back to medieval times and are full of fountains and fabulous plants; pause here to reflect on everything else around you.