The Vatican city, which appears to be a district of Rome partly enclosed in high walls, is the smallest independent state in the world, ruled by the Pope, Europe's only absolute monarch. It has its own army of Swiss guards, who despite wearing the traditional red, yellow, and blue stripe uniform, and wielding 15th century pikes, are in fact highly trained soldiers responsible for the Pope's personal safety. A major portion of the Vatican consists of the Basilica St Peter, catholicism's most sacred shrine, which attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Not only are the proportions overwhelming (the dome, designed by Michelangelo towers 136m above the floor), but so are the hundreds of works of arts held inside the basilica. The Properties of the Holy See the city of Rome enjoying extraterritorial rights are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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