The Palazzo del Laterano (1586-89) was commissioned by Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-90) and designed by his favourite architect Domenico Fontana (1543-1607).
The palace replaced a much more ancient building, which, for centuries, had been the residence of the popes. This was almost destroyed in the fire of 1308 and on the return of the papacy from Avignon in 1377 the Holy See was transferred to the Vatican. The new palace was intended as a summer residence for the popes, but most used the Palazzo del Quirinale instead.
Two of the three facades sport the coat of arms of Pope Sixtus V, while his heraldic lions adorn the upper sets of windows and the frieze.
On February 11th, 1929, a treaty between the Holy See and the Italian state was signed in the Lateran Palace. The Lateran Treaty, as it came to be called, established the creation of the Stato della Città del Vaticano (Vatican City State), the world's smallest sovereign state. Under the treaty, both the Lateran Palace and the adjacent Basilica of St John Lateran were also given extra-territorial status.
Blogging about Rome:
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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