An Overview of the Vatican Real Estate Assets

It is estimated that the Catholic church owns around 177 million acres of land worldwide making it the largest landowner of a religious non-governmental type.

The Vatican. It is the central location for the Roman Catholic Church ruled by the Pope and is a City-State in Rome. The smallest nation but it holds a lot of power all over the world and a lot of art, historical, and real estate assets. 

The Vatican mints its own Euros, has its own stamps, and even issues passports and driver’s licenses. 

So how much real Estate do the Vatican and the Roman Catholic church own?

It is estimated that the Catholic church owns around 177 million acres of land worldwide making it the largest landowner of a religious non-governmental type. Yes, they own churches but also many other properties. The Holy See has diversified investments with the Catholic church owning different types of properties in almost every country and state.

First, you have Vatican City itself. The smallest country in the world at just over 100 acres. There are museums and even a Vatican Bank. 

Interesting Properties You May Not Know About

The Secret Archives

This is the stuff that legends are made of but they are not really secret, just private. Founded in the 1600s the archives hold important and highly historical documents related to the reformation and beyond. We’re talking papers on Martin Luther and Galileo. Apparently, scholars can only even see these documents once they are 75 years old. 

Teutonic Cemetery

The one and only cemetery in the Vatican State, Teutonic has a rich history that dates back to the ancient Romans. A site where many Christians were martyred under Nero. Today it is a peaceful and quiet place. Located by St. Peter’s Basilica another beautiful property of the Vatican. 

Palace of Castel Gandolfo And Gardens

A place for Pontiffs to go and rest in the summer since the 1600s, and a summer residence for the Pope, tourists are now also allowed to pay this palace by the sea a visit. Designed in Baroque style the palace sits in the town of Castel Gandolfo but belongs to the Holy See. It is surrounded by around 135 acres of land and gardens. 

Beyond Italy…

But it is not just in Italy and around Rome that the Vatican owns property. Properties in major cities across the United States and in Paris and London are in the portfolio too. 

International Observatory 

Yes, the Vatican owns the Observatory and research telescope on Mount Graham in Arizona. The modern version of the observatory was established in the 1800s but the astronomical institute has a history as far back as the 1500s making it one of the oldest in the world. While the actual headquarters is located at Castel Gandolfo, support is given here by the University of Arizona with an international staff. 

“Our international staff include a dozen research astronomers (mostly Jesuit priests, but also including two Jesuit brothers and one diocesan priest) plus a number of support staff, emeritus staff, and adjunct scholars. We come from many different nations and cultures, representing nearly every continent.” VaticanObservatory.Va

London Properties

This has caused some controversy lately as there were some allegedly shady deals with a luxury real estate development plan in Chelsea. But the Vatican owns multiple properties in London including apartment buildings and a luxury jewelry house all covering over 4,500 meters square. 

Paris Properties 

Nearly 56,000 square meters of property is owned by the Vatican and managed by the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) in Paris. Over 700 properties worth millions of Euros. 

As you can see, the Vatican owns monasteries and churches, residential areas, and educational ones. And land. A lot of lands. Its real estate holdings are a big part of what makes the Vatican economy varied and strong along with other investments. Did you know about these properties?

There is starting to be much controversy over the environmental impact and social-economic impact of the Church’s real estate assets. It will be interesting to see how everything will be managed and handled moving forward. 


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