Vatican City. According to CountryAAH, Vatican City is the capital city of Holy See. Pope Benedict XVI has worked since his accession in 2005 to improve relations with China. The Vatican’s diplomatic relations with Beijing were broken in 1951 when Communist China expelled all priests and allowed the state to take control of the Catholic Church in the country. In addition, the Vatican City has criticized China for violating human rights. China, in turn, is deeply dissatisfied that the Vatican maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, for the first time in half a century, the Vatican City recognized two bishopric appointments in China during the year, with between 10 and 12 million Catholics.
Another important breakthrough in relations with the outside world came in November, when the Pope received the Saudi King Abdullah for a private visit. It was the first time ever that a pope met a Saudi monarch. Saudi Arabia and the Vatican have no diplomatic ties, partly because the Vatican does not accept that over a million Christians in Saudi Arabia do not have the right to publicly practice their religion.
Intensive negotiations were also underway during the year to reestablish relations with Vietnam, where around a tenth of the population is Catholic. Other world leaders who met the Pope to improve contacts were, for example, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami.
In ancient times, the area today constituted by the Vatican City, west of the Tiber, was considered the Ager Vaticanus (Vatican’s soil). Some historians believe that the area’s original inhabitants came from an ancient Etruscan people named Vaticum, hence the name. Others believe that the name derives from the Latin vates (diviner) and that there originally existed a hill called the Vaticanum, where a bunch of fortune- tellers and wizards used to predict the future of passers-by.
Due to the persecution of the Christians in Rome and the destruction of all ecclesiastical writings by the Dioclesians in the year 303, however, today there are very few testimonies of the first Christians in the area.
The situation changed under Emperor Constantine the Great (307-337). He made peace with the church and allowed the Christians to act legally and gained legal status previously reserved for the unbelievers.
In the 4th century, at the foot of the Vatican, Christians began to build what would later become known as St. Peter’s Basilica. Acc. archaeological investigations it was the burial ground for the first pope. The medieval popes bought the area and ordered a bridge (Pons Aelius) built to connect the area with the rest of Rome.
The architecture of the landscape and buildings was influenced at different times and on different criteria such as the taste and sensitivity of the changing popes. In the 7th century, it was landscape architects such as Antonio Tempesta, Giovanni Maggi and Giambattista Faldi who gave shape to the green space that extends behind St. Peter’s Basilica and over one of Rome’s 7 high. During this period, the pope also began to be ruler of Rome and the surrounding areas.
In 756 this dominion was officially conferred on Pope Stefan II by the King of the Franks, who thanked the Pope for appointing him King. The area was gradually expanded through donations, purchases and conquests, and the Papacy was officially created by Karl the Great in the 9th century. It then constituted the entire central zone of Italy.
In 847, Pope Leon IV ordered a large wall built around almost the entire area to protect against Saracen attacks. Starting from Castel Sant’Angelo, the wall continues behind the Vatican’s basilica and down towards the Tiber. It transformed Skt. Peter the zone to a walled area. It protected the Basilica and the treasures it contained as well as the smaller churches, monasteries, clergy houses, the Pope’s house as well as the inhabitants’ houses and kitchen gardens. But at the same time, the wall turned the area into something special that set it apart from the rest of the city.