Vatican City Holidays, Events, Climate and Sightseeing

Vatican City: holidays, events

Public holidays

There are a number of public holidays that do not have a fixed date, but are based on the location of Easter. Easter takes place on the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the beginning of spring. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which ends on Holy Saturday, is 46 days before Holy Saturday. The date for Pentecost is then 50 days after Easter. The Corpus Christi festival is celebrated on the 2nd Thursday after Pentecost. All Saints’ Day is celebrated for Orthodox Christians on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, but for Catholic Christians the date is fixed on November 1st. On October 31, Protestants celebrate Reformation Day. The Halloween festival also takes place on this day.


Date Holiday
6th January Epiphany
March April Easter
May June Pentecost
15th of August Assumption Day
November 1 All Saints Day
December 25th, 26 Christmas

Source: Countryaah – Vatican City Holidays

Regular events

The church year begins on the 1st Sunday in Advent and ends with the Christ the King on the Sunday before the 1st Sunday in Advent. The church year determines the liturgical calendar, which includes all solemn feasts, festivals and days of remembrance. The solemn festivals of the church year, such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, determine its rhythm. All solemn festivals are accompanied by a preparation time (Advent, Lent, Ascension Day), which should be used primarily for a spiritual renewal of the believers.

An important event is the Pope’s blessing “urbi et orbi” – the city and the world (globe), which he gives as an apostolic blessing at Easter, at Christmas and at his first appearance as the new Pope.

Vatican state: currency

As in Italy, the national currency of the Vatican is the euro = 100 cents. The following bills are valid means of payment:

  • 5 €
  • 10 €
  • 20 €
  • 50 €
  • 100 €
  • € 200
  • 500 €

Vatican state: climate

People go to the Vatican for religious or cultural reasons. Therefore, the weather plays only a secondary role for the visitor or pilgrim.

Climate table

The following table shows a range of climate data for Italy. It should be noted, however, that the climatic conditions in the various regions of the country can differ considerably from one another and thus also from the values shown. The weather in Sicily, for example, differs significantly from the weather in Rome and the Vatican, for example. In addition, such monthly temperature averages say little about the possible current minimum or maximum temperatures. It is not uncommon for average temperatures of around 30 °C to reach maximum values of 40 °C or even more on a number of days. The table therefore only provides a very general overview of the climatic conditions in Rome and the Vatican.

Month Average number of rainy days Mean maximum temperatures in (°C) Mean minimum temperatures in (°C)
January 07-08 10 05
February 07-08 14 05
March 07-08 15 08
April 06-07 20 10
May 06-07 24 12
June 03-04 28 16
July 01-02 30 20
August 01-02 30 20
September 05-06 28 20
October 07-08 22 16
November 09-10 18 08
December 09-10 12 06

Vatican State: Sightseeing

The Vatican is a state within a city (Rome) and at the same time a city, and it is the smallest state in the world. Its area is only 0.44 km², which is surrounded by a wall. The territory of the Vatican includes, among others

St. Peter’s Square, designed by the sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini (from 1598 in Naples to 1680 in Rome); the obelisk that stands in St. Peter’s Square dates from the time of Emperor Nero (37 to 68 AD) and Caligulas (12 to 41 AD). Columns surround the entire square, here are 140 statues of saints from the 17th century.

St. Peter’s Basilica has an area of approx. 15,000 m². In the apse is the “Cathedra Petri”, created by Berninis around 1666 – a throne replica of the chair of the disciple Peter. The cathedral also houses Michelangelo’s Pietà., Which was completed in 1500. Today the portrait is protected behind armored glass, as it was damaged in an assassination attempt in 1972. There is also a large treasury in the cathedral.

The Sistine Chapel, where the papal election takes place and is designed by Botticelli, Perugino. Signorelli et al. Paintings are located.

The Vatican Gardens where subtropical plants grow, fed by water from underground springs. There is a forest there with pine, oak and cypress trees. Bats, squirrels and rabbits and many species of birds can still find a home here.

The Leonine Wall from the 9th century was a fortification to protect the city. It encompassed almost the entire territory of the Vatican. There are still remains of the wall that can be found in the Vatican Gardens.

The Apostolic Palace is the Pope’s official residence in the Vatican. Outside the territory of the Vatican there are still several Vatican properties on Roman grounds.

The Vatican City was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984.

Churches and sacred institutions

Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano

The splendid five-aisled basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano is located in the Roman district of San Giovanni, but is part of the external property of the Vatican State. The church, which dates back to the 4th century, is the actual cathedral of Rome, because the church is the seat of the Pope. San Giovanni was donated by none other than Emperor Constantine I.

St. Peter

The St. Peter is originally a Peter church built in 326 back, which was built on the grave of the apostle Peter. From 1452 the construction of the church began, which was consecrated in 1623. The construction management was held by Bramante, Raffael, Giuliano da Sangallo, Peruzzi, Michelangelo and Bernini, among others. The largest church in the world is 211 m long, 132 m high and has an area of around 15,160 m². It offers space for around 60,000 visitors.

San Paolo fuori le Mura

The Church of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is one of the four patriarchal basilicas of Rome and is the extraterritorial property of the Holy See. The first church building went back to an order of Emperor Constantine, was built over the (presumed) grave of the Apostle Paul and consecrated around the year 325. Later the church was rebuilt and enlarged considerably.

Santa Maria della Pietá

(see below under “Campo Santo Teutonico”)

Santa Maria Maggiore

This patriarchal basilica of Rome is also in the extraterritorial possession of the Holy See and its current construction dates back to the 5th century. The three-aisled pillar basilica underwent numerous additions over the following centuries, including the baptistery, the Cappella Sforza and the Cappella Cesi.

Sistine Chapel

Pope Sixtus had the Sistine Chapel, the name of which goes back to him, remodeled between 1477 and 1480 and furnished with rich frescoes. On the ceiling and the altar wall (Last Judgment) there are frescoes by Michelangelo, other frescoes are by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino. The conclave for the papal election is held in the Sistine Chapel.

Special places and quarters

St. Peter’s Square St. Peter

‘s Square was laid out between 1656 and 1667 by Gain Lorenzo Bernini (1598 – 1680). Two semicircular quadruple colonnades made up of 248 columns and 88 pillars line the oval. They are adorned with 140 statues of saints. In the middle of the square rises a 25.5 m high obelisk from the former circus of Emperor Nero. There are also two fountains on the square. The right is by Carlo Maderno (1556-1629) from 1613, the left by Bernini himself from 1675.

Campo Santo Teutonico

The “German cemetery” extends between St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Audience Hall, which also includes a priestly college and rooms of the Roman Institute of the Görres Society. The Campo, which is the oldest German national foundation in Rome, stands on historical ground: Nero’s circus once spread here – the place of so many Christian martyrs. Another part of the Campo is the delightful church of Santa Maria della Pietá, consecrated in 1501, built in a simple Renaissance style and later remodeled in Baroque style. The church, which was restored at the beginning in the 1970s, was used every Thursday by then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger for the early mass before he took over the papacy.

Special structures and buildings

Apostolic Palace

(also Pope’s or Vatican Palace)

This actually quite simple-looking building has housed the Pope’s living quarters since the return of the Popes from exile in Avignon (in 1377) and is therefore the official residence of the Holy Father in Vatican City. The palace therefore includes the papal apartments, but also offices, chapels and parts of the Vatican Museums. The complex, which has 1,400 rooms spread over an area of 55,000 m², was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger

Leonine Wall

This medieval fortification once included the Roman district of Borgo and a very large part of the Vatican City. Today only remnants of what Pope Leo IV had built in the 9th century to protect against mainly Saracen attacks remain, which are located in the Vatican Gardens and therefore within the Vatican State.

Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds housed the first Vatican observatory. He was 1578 to 1580 on behalf of Pope Gregory XIII. built.

Vatican Audience Hall

between 1964 and 1971 was commissioned by Pope Paul VI. the Vatican audience hall was built, the gigantic roof structure of which is probably the most outstanding part. The huge building is used for papal general audiences and extraordinary meetings of the Synod of Bishops

Vatican Station

Since 1933, the Vatican State has had its own station with 200 meters of rails on Vatican territory. The last time the station was used by John Paul II to transport people; that was once in 1979 until the next train station in Rome and in 2002 when it went from the Vatican to Assisi. A small department store has been housed in the station since 2003, and the railway line of the dwarf state is only used for freight traffic.

Governor’s Palace

The Governor’s Palace is the seat of the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City and secular institutions such as the Postage and Mint Office, Post and Telegraph Office, Health Service, Radio Vaticana, the daily newspaper and the Guard Corps.

Prati del Belvedere

The Prati del Belvedere includes apartments, a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, a switchboard and workshops. It was built in the Renaissance style at the end of the 15th century and is connected to the Papal Palace.

Cultural and scientific institutions

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana contains approx. 1.6 million books as well as 8,300 incunabula, approx. 150,000 manuscripts and directories, approx. 300,000 coins and medals. The attached secret archive was opened for the first time in 1880, but an insight into Vatican state affairs is only allowed until 1922.


Under St. Peter’s Basilica is the crypt, the burial place of the apostle Peter and his successors.

Pontifical Academy of Science

The Papal Academy of Science, the Casina Pius IV, is housed in a small villa.


Rooms The Raphael Rooms in the second floor of the Vatican Palace: Raphael painted the rooms with beautiful frescoes from 1508 to 1524.

Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums, called “Musei Vaticani” in Italian, are home to the papal art collections and are among the most valuable, important and largest collections in the world. Countless works of art from oriental antiquity, the Etruscan period, classical antiquity as well as Christian art of the early Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the modern age are shown. The museum tour ends in the Sistine Chapel, the most famous area of the museums. The Vatican Museums consist of several, but separate collections and are formed by the following museums:

Collezione d’Arte Religiosa Moderna – This is a valuable collection of modern religious art.

Musei di Antichità Classiche

Museo Chiaramonti– Statues, sculptures, portraits, reliefs and Roman busts are part of this museum

Museo Filatelico e Numismatico – Philatelists and numismatists get their money’s worth here.

Museo Gregoriano Egizio – The Gregorian-Egyptian Museum houses numerous ancient Egyptian finds, including papyri, mummies and the legendary “Book of Death”.

Museo Gregoriano Etrusco – The Gregorian-Etruscan Museum, built in 1837 by Gregory XVI. created, is home to archaeological finds from southern Etruria. A large part of the museum is occupied by precious vases.

Museo Gregoriano Profano– The museum, founded in 1884, shows Greek and Roman works of art, including the well-known group “Minerva and Marsyas”.

Museo Missionario-Etnologico – The Museo shows objects of a religious character from Asia, Oceania, Africa and America as well as hand-made objects from different peoples.

Museo Pio-Clementino – Apart from the important Greek and Roman works of art, the so-called Scala Bramante spirals upwards within the museum. These stairs were laid out in the early 16th century to connect the palace of Pope Innocent VIII with the city.

Museo Pio Cristiano – Here you can mainly admire statues and sarcophagi from Christian antiquity.

Museo Sacro(Library)

Museo Storico Vaticano – The still young museum exhibits papal state cars and other means of transport. One of the most interesting exhibits is the model of the first Vatican locomotive.

Sistine Chapel – The Cappella Sistina is without a doubt the most famous and sought-after part of the Vatican Museums. It is located north of St. Peter’s Basilica and contains some of the most famous paintings on earth. The most precious part of the chapel, which is also used as a place for the election of the Pope (conclave), are certainly the ceiling paintings by Michelangelo, who designed it from 1508 to 1512 according to Old Testament motifs.

Vatican Pinacoteca – Works that were created between the Middle Ages and the beginning of the 19th century are shown there. The most famous works are by Michelangelo, Fra Angelico and Raffael.

By the way:

Anyone considering a visit to the museums – which one should definitely do – must expect a queue up to 1,000 meters long and a waiting time of up to two hours, especially when the weather is nice in the main travel season, especially since there is a security check in the entrance area of the museums is carried out. On the last Sunday of each month, you can save an average of 15 euros on admission, because then the museums are open to all visitors free of charge. You should be able to walk around the museums well, because a total of around seven kilometers has to be covered. Appropriate clothing is also mandatory in this part of the Vatican State.

Vatican gardens

More than half of the Vatican national territory is made up of the 44 ha = 0.44 km² Vatican Gardensincludes. They spread in the west of the Papal States and enclose several important buildings. Of course, a substantial part of the wonderful gardens was designed artificially and with beds and lawns. The large area between the seat of the Vatican administration and the Leonine Wall, however, has remained quite original and consists of cedars, cypresses, pines, pines and palm trees. In addition to wonderful components such as the wonderful fountains, the gardens also enclose beautiful constructions and important institutions such as the famous Leonine Wall, St. John’s Tower, the Church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, the Vatican Radio Directorate, the Vatican Court of Justice and the Tower of the Winds.

By the way, part of the Vatican Gardens can be visited as part of a guided tour. You always have to register in advance for such a tour.

Castel Gandolfo (extraterritorial possession)

The papal summer residence is located in the city of Castel Gandolfo, about 25 km from Rome. The building, originally constructed by Emperor Domitianus, was annexed by Pope Clement VIII in 1596 and, at the behest of Pope Urban VIII, was converted into the Papal Palace from 1624 to 1629. The papal residence, which consists of three villas, gardens and a manor, was declared extra-territorial property of the Holy See as part of the Lateran Treaty (1929). The Vatican observatory Specola Vaticana, founded in 1930, also belongs to the Castel.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Historic center of Rome, sites of the Holy See in Rome and Basilica of St. Paul “Outside the Walls”

Saint Paul Outside the Walls is one of four patriarchal basilicas and one of 7 pilgrim churches. The Basilica of Saint Paul was built on the grave of the Apostle Paul, who was beheaded outside the city in AD 67 and a statue was erected in front of the basilica in his memory. In 1854 the basilka was opened by Pope Pius IX. inaugurated. The facade of the basilica is decorated with a mosaic. A statue of the Apostle Paul was placed in front of the basilica

Inside the basilica is decorated with precious marble and alabaster work. The canopy that spans the apostle’s grave dates from the 13th century.

These very extensive sites were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980 and expanded in 1990. The legacy is “cross-border” to Rome and thus to Italy.

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