Apostolic Palace

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Apostolic Palace
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The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope which is located in Vatican City. It is also known as the Sacred Palace, the Papal Palace of the Vatican. The Vatican itself refers to the building as the Palace of Sixtus V in honour of Pope Sixtus V.

Palace Structure

The palace is more accurately a series of self-contained buildings within the well-recognised outer structure which is arranged around the Courtyard of Sixtus V (Cortile de Sisto V). It is located North-East ofSt Peter's Basilica and adjacent to the Bastion of Pope Nicholas V and Palace of Gregory XIII.

Rather than a "traditional" palace (a residential building surrounded by support buildings) the Apostolic Palace houses both residential apartments and support offices of various functions as well as administrative offices not focused on the life and functions of the Pope himself.


Apostolic Palace - THE  BORGIAS   wikiThe building contains the Papal Apartments, various government offices of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy See, private and public chapels including the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library, including the Borgia Apartment (see fresco left of The Resurrection with Pope Alexander VI kneeling) now used to house artworks.

Brief History

Construction of the palace began on 30 April 1589 under Pope Sixtus and its various intrinsic parts completed by later successors, Pope Urban VII, Pope Innocent XI and Pope Clement VIII.


In the 15th century, the Apostolic palace was placed under the authority of the prefect of the Apostolic palace. This position of Apostolic prefect lasted from the 15th century till the 1800s, when the Papal States fell into economic difficulties. In 1824, when this post was reviewed to save money, Pope Leo XII created a committee to administer the palace.

Further Uses

The term Apostolic Palace has been used in other contexts not directly related to the actual Palace of Sixtus V.

It has been used, for example, as a general reference to the papacy itself in the same way the term "White House" is used to describe the United States Presidential administration generally, rather than the physical building itself.

  • Borgia Apartment - The Borgia Apartment was adapted for personal use by Pope Alexander VI.

  • Apostolic Palace - THE  BORGIAS   wikiThe Clementine Hall - Is a hall (pictured right) of the Apostolic Palace near St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. It was established in the 16th century by Pope Clement VIII in honour of Pope Clement I, the third successor of St. Peter. The Clementine Hall is covered in Renaissance frescoes and valuable works of art. It is used by the pope as a reception room and in some cases, site of various ceremonies and rituals. The Clementine Hall is the chamber in which the body of the pope lies for private visitation by officials of the Vatican upon death, like that most recently of the funeral of Pope John Paul II. The pope is then traditionally moved from the Clementine Hall and ceremonially carried across St. Peter's Square to St. Peter's Basilica or the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. Frescoes - Over the doors appears the fresco "The Martyrdom of St. Clementt" by the Dutch painter Paul Bril. On the opposite wall appear the frescoes "The Baptism of St. Clement" by Italian painters Cherubino Alberti and Baldassare Croce, and an "Allegory of Art and Science" by Giovanni (brother of Cherubino) and frieze on the side walls depict allegories of the cardinal virtues by Alberti and Croce and the theological virtues, on the opposite wall, by the same artists. On the ceiling is “The Apotheosis of St. Clement" by Giovanni Alberti.

Apostolic Palace - THE  BORGIAS   wikiDomus Sancae Marthae (Latin for Saint Martha's House) is a building completed in 1996 adjacent to Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City built during the reign of Pope John Paul II (pictured left). It functions as a guest house for those having business with the Holy See, but it is best known as the hotel residence of the College of Cardinals taking part in the papal conclaves to elect new Popes. Its amenities include furnished bedrooms, lavatories and studies for each prelate. Dining facilities and personal services are also offered.

Papal Residence

The pope's official seat or cathedral is the Basilica of St John Lateran, and his official residence is the Apostolic Palace. He also possesses a summer residence at Castel Gandolfo (situated on the site of the ancient city of Alba Longa). Until the time of the Avignon Papacy, the residence of the Pope was the Lateran Palace, donated by the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great.







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