If you want to see the latest pope the best place to go to is St Peterâ€™s Square. Here you can celebrate mass with the Pope and hear his Sunday message. He is the latest head of the Roman Catholic church which roughly has 1 billion followers. Although the responsibility he has is enormous and the power he has is equally so, his seat of office is within one of the smallest city states on earth.
The Vatican city is just 0,44 kilometres square. It has its own radio station, television station, post office, railway station and helipad. 3000 lay workers also work in the Vatican City along with priests, dignitaries, nuns and guards. The Vatican City is all that remains of the papal states of 1859. which was originally 44,030 kilometres square. Other property also still retained by the papacy include the Lateran palaces and Castel Gandolfo, which is also the Popeâ€™s summer residence.
The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and of course St Peterâ€™s Basilica, which is also the largest in the world are all situated here. The walls running around the city also serve as the international boundaries. The Swiss Guard also serve as the personal guard of the Pope and of the state. They are extremely well trained and disciplined. They are also all Swiss, single and devout Catholics.
Pope John Paul II transformed many policies of the Vatican in the eighties. One of the policies that changed was that Catholicism was no longer the state religion in Italy. The current Pope Benedict the 16th has very big shoes to fill. John Paul II left a big legacy and everyone expects Benedict to carry on in the same way.
A trip to Rome would not be complete without a visit to Vatican city. Please donâ€™t forget that to get into St Peters there is a strict dress code. No bear shoulders no skirts or pants above the knee and no open shoes. Obviously with the weather heating up and being extremely warm, clothing for outdoors will probably not be appropriate to gain entry. Take a bag with you and pack a long sleeve top and pair of pants. They are very strict so no amount of crying or begging will get you in.
The best time to go to the Vatican Museums is at least an hour before opening as the queue here is very long and slow. This means that with the current opening time you should get there by the very latest at nine in the morning. At the moment St Peterâ€™s is open from seven in the morning till seven in the evening. Go here after you have been to the museum. Its also really great because at some points in the queue you get to wait under the colonnade that encompasses the square so you may get some respite from the sun.