Vatican, the papal palace at Rome, so called from its situation on the Mons Vaticanus, at the extreme N. W. part of the city. It adjoins the basilica of St. Peter, and is a little less than half a mile from the castle of Sant' Angelo, with which it communicates by a covered gallery built by Pope John XXIII. early in the 15th century. The palace, one of the most magnificent in the world, has grown up by degrees, and consequently exhibits a great want of architectural harmony. There was a palace attached to St. Peter's certainly in the time of Charlemagne, and probably before the reign of Constantine. It was rebuilt by Innocent III. (1198-1216), and enlarged by Nicholas III. (1277-81), but did not become the permanent residence of the popes until after their return from Avignon in 1377. Very little of the present edifice is older than the time of Nicholas V. (1447). The renovation of the old palace, which he commenced, was completed by Alexander VI. (1492-1503), after whom that part of the building is now called the appartamento Borgia. The Sistine chapel was added by Sixtus IV. in 1474, and the Pauline chapel by Paul III. in 1534. Innocent VIII. (1484-'92) constructed the Belvedere villa a short distance from the palace, and Julius II. (1503-13) connected it with the Vatican by means of the celebrated loggie and a terraced court.
To Julius II. is also due the foundation of the museum. Pius VII. constructed the braccio nuovo for sculptures; Gregory XVI. added the Etruscan museum; and Pius IX. has added a fourth side to the cortile di San Damaso. The portion of the Vatican which is now the ordinary residence of the popes lies on the E. of the loggie, and was built chiefly by Sixtus V. (1585-'90) and Clement VIII. (1592-1605). - The whole palace, which is rather a collection of separate buildings than one regular edifice, occupies a spaoe of 1,151 by 767 ft., and has 200 staircases, 20 courts, and 4,422 rooms. The scala regia, or great staircase, is a masterpiece of Bernini, and chiefly remarkable for its perspective. It leads to the sola regia, built by Antonio di Sangallo as an audience hall for the reception of ambassadors, and decorated with frescoes by Vasari, Marco da Siena, Taddeo and Federigo Zucchero, Giuseppe Porta, and others. The Sistine and Pauline chapels open into this hall. The former contains, besides the magnificent frescoes of the ceiling, Michel Angelo's first masterpiece in painting, his "Last Judgment," together with frescoes by Perugino, Ghirlandaio, and others, representing passages in the lives of Christ and Moses; the latter possesses Michel Angelo's frescoes of the "Conversion of St. Paul" and " Crucifixion of St. Peter." The chapel of San Lorenzo has a series of remarkable frescoes by Fra Angelico. The stanze of Raphael is the name given to four chambers decorated by the hand of that great master; the paintings in one represent events in the lives of Leo III. and Leo IV.; in another are illustrations of the sciences of theology, philosophy, poetry, and jurisprudence; in the third, the triumphs and miracles of the church; and in the fourth, the sovereignty of the church.
The frescoes on the roof of the first are by Perugino, and the last contains only two figures by Raphael, the rest having been completed after his death by Giulio Romano and others. The loggie, already referred to, form a triple colonnade around three sides of the court of San Damaso, the uppermost story supported by columns, and the two lower by pilasters. They were built after designs by Bramante, and on one side of the court were painted from the designs of Raphael; they have been much injured 'by exposure to the weather and other causes, but are now protected by glazed sashes. The museum is one of the most magnificent collections of the kind ever made. Among its principal features are the gallery of inscriptions, containing over 3,000 specimens of ancient sepulchral inscriptions and monuments; the museo Chiaramonte, devoted to ancient sculptures, with the braccio nuovo, a fine hall added to it in 1817, and containing a semicolossal statue of an athlete, supposed to be the famous Ajro^vdjuevog of Lysippus; the museo Bio- Glementino, devoted to works of the same class accumulated by Julius II., Leo X., Clement VII., Paul III., and especially Clement XIV. and Pius VI., and possessing the Torso Belvedere and the sarcophagus of Scipio; the cortile di Belvedere, containing bass-reliefs, statues, sarcophagi, baths, etc, among which are the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvedere; the halls of the animals, of the busts, and of the Muses, so named from the character of their principal statues; the gallery of statues, in which are the Apollo Sauroctonos and the supposed Cupid of Praxiteles; the cabinet of the masks; the hall of the Greek cross, with the sarcophagi of Sts. Helena and Constantia, the mother and daughter of Constantine; the gallery of the candelabras, the sola degli Arazzi, so called from the "tapestries of Raphael" manufactured at Arras in 1515 - '16; and the hall of the biga, so called from an antique twowheeled chariot in white marble.
The Etruscan museum contains 12 chambers, filled with relics of the ancient inhabitants of Italy. The Egyptian museum, commenced by Pius VII., is inferior to many similar collections in other parts of Europe. The picture gallery contains greater treasures than any other in the world, though the whole catalogue barely numbers 50 paintings. Among these are Raphael's " Transfiguration," "Madonna di Foligno," and " Coronation of the Virgin;" Domenichino's "Communion of St. Jerome;" and works by Titian, Andrea Sacchi, N. Poussin, Guido, Caravaggio, Baroccio, Perugino, Guercino, Fra Angelico da Fiesole, Pinturicchio, Correggio, Melozzo da Forli, Andrea Mantegna, and Paul Veronese. - The library was founded in 1378, and now contains 105,000 volumes and 25,500 manuscripts, in a building erected by Sixtus V. in 1588. The manuscript collection, though not the largest, is the most valuable in the world.