The Vatican remains one of the densest tourist sights for holidaymakers of Rome, its wealth of attractions being complemented by the lush Vatican Gardens. The gardens stretch on a surface of 23 hectares, thus filling about two thirds of the surface of the city. The gardens were first laid out under Pope Nicholas III (born of the Orsini family) in 1279, when the pope decided to move his residence from the Lateran Palace to the Vatican. The original gardens (which were designed on three sections, namely, the garden, or the viridarium, the orchard, or the pomerium, and the lawn, or the pratellum) were massively redesigned in the 16th century, under Pope Julius II, when Bramante was commissioned to also design the courtyard of the Vatican, eventually constructed on three sections: Cortile del Belvedere, Cortille della Pigna (where Fontana della Pigna is located) and Cortile della Biblioteca. Bramante was also the one who designed the defensive wall of the city, replacing the former defensive structures erected under Pope Nicholas III.

At present, the Vatican Gardens are deemed an environmentally distinct area, a biotope the flora of which consists of a wealth of species which coexist in balance. The garden is pegged out by flower beds, wide lawns and forests which stretch on a surface of 3 hectares. The topiaries, the buildings erected here since the 9th century until today, including medieval constructions, plenty of fountains, artificially built grottos and sculptural works which blend in perfectly with the vegetation, the olive tree symbolically donated by the state of Israel to the Vatican, all these generate a scenic set evoking the elegance of the Renaissance style gardens and calling forth the times when the popes actually came here to meditate in peace and tranquility.

Today, the gardens are opened to the public, but for guided group tours, reservations are required. The admission price amounts to 31 euros, but the amount is worth paying.

Vatican Gardens (Giardini Vaticani)
Viale Vaticano, Vatican
0039 06 69884676 / 0039 06 69883145
[email protected]