Photo Essay: Swiss Guards at the Vatican

By January 12, 2013Photo Essays, Vatican City
swiss guards at vatican

Swiss Guards; Vatican City

From head to toe, these are some funky-looking outfits.  The guys wearing them resemble a couple of unemployed actors who just got a gig working at a renaissance festival.

Actually, though, they are members of one of the oldest and most prestigious military outfits in the world – the Swiss Guard.

Known for their discipline and loyalty, various units of the Swiss Guard have existed since the 1500s.  They have served as bodyguards, ceremonial guards and palace guards at various European courts.

These men are part of the only Swiss Guard unit still in existence – the Papal Swiss Guard.  They are the de facto military of Vatican City, home of the Pope and a sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave inside Rome.  In terms of size, the Vatican is the smallest sovereign state in the world.  I took this photo right outside St. Peter’s Basilica.

Yes, members of the Swiss Guard really are Swiss.  They must be single, Catholic males with Swiss citizenship.

And they better not be fashion-conscious or camera-shy.

Copyright © Dan Fellner 2013