|Vatican City is an independent state ruled over by the Sovereign Pontiff (the Pope) and watched over by Vatican guards. The Capital of Catholicism is the world's smallest state; it occupies 43 ha (106 acres) within high walls. It has been the residence of the Popes for about six centuries, since 1377. About 265 Popes have sat on the throne of St. Peter, in an unintrerapted line. The papal palaces, next to the great basilica of St. Peter's, are home to the Sixtine Chapel and the eclectic collections of the Vatican Museums, as well as the residence of the pope.