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The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope, which is located in Vatican City. It is also known as the Sacred Palace, the Papal Palace and the Palace of the Vatican. The Vatican itself refers to the building as the Palace of Sixtus V in honor of Pope Sixtus V. The ancient Vatican Palace had fallen into disrepair during the period of the Avignon Papacy, when the popes did not reside in Rome. In 1436 the Spanish traveller Pedro Tafur found it still in poor condition: "The Pope's dwelling is a mediocre place and when I was there it was ill-kept."
Construction of the current version of the palace began on 30 April 1589 under Pope Sixtus V and its various intrinsic parts completed by later successors, Pope Urban VII, Pope Innocent XI and Pope Clement VIII. In the 15th century, the Apostolic palace was placed under the authority of the prefect of the Apostolic palace. This position of Apostolic prefect lasted from the 15th century till the 1800s, when the Papal States fell into economic difficulties. In 1884, when this post was reviewed to save money, Leo XIII created a committee to administer the palace.
The palace is more accurately a series of self-contained buildings within the well-recognised outer structure which is arranged around the Courtyard of Sixtus V (Cortile di Sisto V). It is located North-East of St Peter's Basilica and adjacent to the Bastion of Nicholas V and Palace of Gregory XIII. Rather than a traditional palace (a residential building surrounded by support buildings) the Apostolic Palace houses both residential and support offices of various functions as well as administrative offices not focused on the life and functions of the Pope himself. The building contains the Papal Apartments, various government offices of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy See, private and public chapels, Vatican Museums and the Vatican library, including the Borgia Apartment now used to house artworks.
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