As early as the mid 9th century a small, fortified city surrounded the area around the ancient St Peter’s Basilica, enircled by walls built by Leo IV (847-855), the so-called “Leonine city”. Between the end of the 13th and the first decades of the 14th century, some edifices were built around the square courtyard, known as “Pappagallo”. They were the first Vatican palaces.
After the Avignon Schism (1309-1377), no new buildings were erected until the end of the 15th century, when the palaces of Sixtus IV (1471-1484) were built. These include the Sistine Chapel, which takes its name from the Pope. Innocent VIII (1484-1492) also built some palaces, about 300 metres north of the Vatican basilica. Julius II (1503-1513) and his architect, Donato Bramante, had the idea of joining the two groups of buildings constructed by his predecessors, adding two magnificent, three-level courtyards. During the 16th and 17th centuries, popes continued to work on and enlarge the Vatican palaces. Sixtus V (1585- 1590) also built the palace where the present pope lives and where every Sunday at noon he stands at the window (the second from the right on the third floor), and blesses the crowd that gathers in the magnificent Vatican square.