The Swiss Guard (Guardia Svizzera Pontificia) is an infantry military formation that can be found in the Vatican only. Its aim is to keep adjutant guard to the Holy Father.
The Swiss Guard was established in the 16th century and is regarded as the smallest but also the oldest army in the world, existing since 1506. In its history there are only few moments of non-existence. The first one was between 1527 and 1548 but the Guard was reactivated by Paul III. Thereafter, two brakes followed in the end of the 18th century and in the beginning of the 19th, which were caused by an occupation of the Vatican by the Napoleon's army. The exact date of creating the Guard is January the 22nd, 1506, when by order of Pope Julius II 150 soldiers came to the Vatican from Switzerland. The Swiss army was regarded as one of the most disciplined and loyal in Europe.
Today, the Swiss Guard numbers 110 soldiers, its commanding officer has the rank of colonel and is a member of the Papal Family with a title of the Noblemen of His Holiness. Its members can be Catholic Switzers only. They need to undergo a mandatory military service in their country and at the moment of the oath must be bachelors of impeccable opinion. The basic service lasts two years and can be lengthened. To become a guard one need to be between 19 and 35 years old and over 174 centimetre high.
Nowadays, uniforms of the Swiss Guard are similar to the ones from the 16th century but were designed in the beginning of the 20th century by the then commanding officer. They were modified during years and it is not true that they were created by Michaelangelo. The colours of the uniforms are the colours of the noble house of Medici.