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Vatican City (/ˈvætɪkən/ (About this soundlisten)), officially Vatican City State (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano; Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae), is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from yet under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes). With an area of 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.

The Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state (a type of theocracy) ruled by the pope who is the bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. Since the return of the popes from Avignon in 1377, they have generally resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.

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Vatican Palace
Credit: Lalupa
Vatican Palace: the gardens from the museum.

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The Pontifical Academy of Sciences (Latin Pontificia Academia Scientiarum) is a scientific academy of the Vatican, founded in 1603 and later re-established in 1936 by Pope Pius XI. It is placed under the protection of the reigning Supreme Pontiff. Its aim is to promote the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences and the study of related epistemological problems. The Academy has its origins in the Accademia Pontificia dei Nuovi Lincei ("Pontifical Academy of the New Lynxes"), founded in 1847 intended as a more closely supervised successor to the Accademia dei Lincei ("Academy of Lynxes") established in Rome in 1603, by the learned Roman Prince, Federico Cesi (1585–1630) who was a young botanist and naturalist, and which claimed Galileo Galilei as its president.The Accademia dei Lincei survives as a wholly separate institution.

The Academy is headquartered in the Casina Pio IV in the heart of the Vatican Gardens. The academy holds a membership roster of the most respected names in 20th century science, including such Nobel laureates as Ernest Rutherford, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Otto Hahn, Charles Hard Townes and Stephen Hawking.

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Popepiusix.jpg
Credit: George Peter Alexander Healy

Vatican during the Savoyard Era 1870-1929 describes the relation of the Vatican to Italy, after 1870, which marked the end of the Papal State and 1929, when the papacy regained autonomy in the Lateran Treaty.

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A post-restoration section of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which includes the two panels reproduced above.

The restoration of the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel was one of the most significant art restorations of the 20th century. The Sistine Chapel was built by Pope Sixtus IV within the Vatican immediately to the north of St. Peter's Basilica and completed in about 1481. Its walls were decorated by a number of Renaissance painters who were among the most highly regarded artists of late 15th century Italy, including Ghirlandaio, Perugino, and Botticelli. The Chapel was further enhanced under Pope Julius II by the painting of the ceiling by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 and by the painting of the Last Judgment, commissioned by Pope Clement VII and completed in 1541, again by Michelangelo. The tapestries on the lowest tier, today best known from the Raphael Cartoons (painted designs) of 1515–16, completed the ensemble.

Together the paintings make up the greatest pictorial scheme of the Renaissance. Individually, some of Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling are among the most notable works of western art ever created. The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and in particular the ceiling and accompanying lunettes by Michelangelo have been subject to a number of restorations, the most recent taking place between 1980 and 1994. This most recent restoration had a profound effect on art lovers and historians, as colours and details that had not been seen for centuries were revealed.
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