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  The Vatican Gardens




The Vatican Gardens date back to medieval times when vineyards and orchards extended to the north of the Apostolic Palace. In the 1279 Pope Nicholas II enclosed this cultivated area with walls. Today these walls are no longer standings owing to the site's transformation at the beginning of the 16th century. Two new courtyards were created: the Belvedere and the "Pigna" or Pine Cone.

Nicholas V (1447 - 55) conceived a series of gardens which could be used in ceremonies of the papal court as well as for the pope's personal enjoyment in the area now occupied by the Courtyard of St. Damasus and by the late 16th-century building which is presently the pope's private residence.

In the area of greenery which remained after the construction of the Belvedere corridors (now the Apostolic Library and the Vatican Museums, Pius IV (1559 - 65) had Pirro Ligorio construct the lovely Villa Pia or "Casina", intended for his moments of leisure and rest, which is now the seat of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; later, Paul V (1605 - 21) adorned it with splendid fountains.

Today the Vatican Gardens are divided into two areas (as can easily be seen from the top of the dome of St. Peter's) by the remains of the medieval walls which encircled the Vatican before the construction of the surviving 16th-century ramparts. On one side, in a north-north-west direction, is the park of the Villa Pia and the wood above it; on the other side, behind the apse of the Basilica, is the area that was set aside for agricultural cultivation until the foundation of the Vatican City State (1929) and later left green, although today much of it is built up owing to the requirements of this extremely small state.

After the Lateran Treaty, 11 February 1929, behind the sacristy and the Basilica, Piazza Santa Marta was laid out, and the Mosaic Studio , the Railway Station ,

The Government Palace, the Ethiopian College and the Marconi Broadcasting Centre were built. Along the medieval walls, at the level of the circular tower, Pope Leo XIII had a new "retreat" constructed, the building now occupied by the administrative offices of the Vatican Radio.

On the wall to the left, The St. John Tower, rebuilt by Giovanni XXIII, is reserved for illustrious guest.

To receive additional information on the Vatican Gardens or to book a tour please contact our concierge: Valentina