The Vatican City, surrounded by a high wall, comprises an area of 44 hectares and a population of 550. It is, in size, the smallest independent state in existence. Policing is carried out by the 130 Gendarmes Corps, and by the pontifical Swiss Guard, founded in 1506, who wear a picturesque striped uniform.
There are three entrances to the Vatican City. They are not open to the general public and are protected by members of the Swiss Guard. The ‘Portone di Bronzo’, in the colonnade to the right of St. Peter’s, is the official entrance to the Holy See. The ‘Arco delle Campane’, to the left of St. Peter’s, is the entrance for cars and the ‘Cancello di Sant’Anna’, in via di Porta Angelica, is used for the various offices of the Vatican State.
Within Vatican City are religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums. They boasts one of the most impressive art collections in the world. Some of the most famous works of art on display here include the wall and ceiling paintings of the Sistine Chapel, the Stanze of Raphael, the Laocoön statue and the Apollo del Belvedere. A tour of the museums is a must for any visitor to Rome.