The Gardens of Vatican City , also informally known as the Vatican Gardens in Vatican City, are private urban gardens and parks which cover more than half of the country, located in the west of the territory and owned by the Pope. There are some buildings, such as Radio Vatican and the Governor's Palace, within the gardens.
The gardens cover approximately 23 hectares which is most of the Vatican Hill. The highest point is 60 metres above mean sea level. Stone walls bound the area in the North, South and West. The gardens and parks were established during the Renaissance and Baroque era and are decorated with fountains and sculptures.
There is no general public access, but guided tours are available to limited numbers. The gardens also enshrine 17 Marian images venerated worldwide at the designation of the Roman Pontiff, who is the owner of the gardens.
Pious tradition claim that the foundation site of the Vatican Gardens was spread with sacred soil brought from Mount Calvary by Empress Saint Helena to symbolically unite the blood of Jesus Christ with that shed by thousands of early Christians, who died in the persecutions of Emperor Nero Caesar Augustus.
The gardens date back to medieval times when orchards and vineyards extended to the north of the Papal Apostolic Palace. In 1279, Pope Nicholas III moved his residence back to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace and enclosed this area with walls. He planted an orchard , a lawn and a garden .
The site received a major re-landscaping at the beginning of the 16th century, during the pontificate of Pope Julius II. Donato Bramante's original design was then split into three new courtyards, the Cortili del Belvedere, the "della Biblioteca" and the "della Pigna" in the Renaissance landscape design style. Also in Renaissance style, a great rectangular Labyrinth, formal in design, set in boxwood and framed with Italian stone pines, and cedars of Lebanon, . In place of Nicholas III's enclosure, Bramante built a great rectilinear defensive wall.
Today's Vatican Gardens are spread over nearly 23 hectares , they contain a variety of medieval fortifications, buildings and monuments from the 9th century to the present day, set among vibrant flower beds and topiary, green lawns and a 3 hectares patch of forest. There are a variety of fountains cooling the gardens, sculptures, an artificial grotto devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes, and an olive tree donated by the government of Israel.
Pope Pius XI designated Saint Therese of Lisieux The Little Flower as the official Patroness of the gardens on 17 May 1927, according her the title as "Sacred Keeper of the Gardens" and within the same year a small temple dedicated to her was built within the gardens near the Leonine walls.
The following are the official list of venerated images of the Blessed Virgin Mary enshrined at the Vatican Gardens:
The initial version is based upon the article it:Giardini Vaticani of the Italian language edition of Wikipedia. Data concerning the measures of lengths were taken from the article de:Vatikanische Gärten of the German language edition of Wikipedia.