The Lateran Palace
The Lateran Apostolic Palace was built in 1585 by the architect Domenico Fontana on order of Pope Sixtus V Peretti to substitute the original Patriarchio, seat of the papal residence throughout the Middle Age until the so-called Avignon exile (1309-1377). In fact, after their return to Italy in 1377, the Popes went to live to the Vatican, a more secure area of the city, and the ancient Patriarchio was abandoned. Richly decorated with frescoes by some of the major mannerist painters in Rome, the great 16th century palace is today the headquarters of the vicariate of the diocese of Rome. After the Lateran Pacts, signed here in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, the Lateran Palace (as well as the Basilica of St. John Lateran) enjoy the status of extraterritoriality. You will find inside the Museo Storico Vaticano, an interesting museum illustrating the history of the Papal States. From the old Lateran constructions three monuments survive, the Scala Santa, the Chapel of the Sancta Sanctorum and the restored Triclinium of Leo III.