When I visited the Vatican City for the first time I couldn´t stop looking at the uniforms that the Papal Swiss Guards were wearing. The uniforms are very colourful, unusual and almost Renaissance-inspired looking. It is said that the Pope asked Michelangelo to design the uniforms and since then it hasn´t been changed.
The guards are normally very friendly looking and I am sure they will gladly pose for a photo if asked. But never underestimate them. These guards are skilled soldiers with military experience. They are considered to be some of the elite soldiers in the world. They perform ceremonial duties and play an active role to protect the Pope.
It is not easy to be accepted in the Swiss Guard. Men must be Catholic, least 1,74m (5’8.5”) in height, between the ages of 19 and 30, have completed basic training in the Swiss military, and of course, be Swiss.
It is considered an immense honor to be a bodyguard of the Pope. In 2006, the Papal Swiss Guard celebrated its 500 year anniversary with a number of ceremonies and events, commemorating the long history of the Swiss Guards at the Vatican..
Vatican City Facts: The Swiss Guards
• Established in 1506 by Pope Julius II the Pontifical Swiss Guard (Vatican guard) were originally employed as personal bodyguards to the Pope, at present they serve as the military force of the Vatican.