Vatican City is the smallest country in the world. Located in Rome, Italy, this city-state has a population of just over 800 people and covers only 108 acres. This might seem like an insignificant number to some people; however, there are many fascinating facts about Vatican City that makes it worthy of attention!
Vatican City Size – The smallest country
The State of Vatican City, surrounded by Rome, Italy, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church.
The City has an area of 121 acres (0.49 km²) and a population of 800 -1000 people. It is the smallest country in the world. You compare its size to a quarter of Central Park in New York City.
Creation of Vatican
The Vatican City State was established on 11 February 1929, by the Lateran Treaty between Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy and Pope Pius XI after being disestablished with Italian unification in 1870
The Vatican – the name
The Vatican City was named after an Etruscan settlement, Vatica or Vaticum located in the general area of what Romans called Ager Vaticanus. The official Italian name of this city is Città del Vaticano or more formally Stato Della Citta Del Vatican meaning “Vatican City State”. Vatican City is known as well as the Holy See.
The first time the Vatican City was mentioned in 263 AD by Pope Dionysius when he mentions it as Città del Vaticano.
Symbols of Vatican City
- Coat of arms – The Holy See coat of arms is a gold key with an olive branch in one and three silver keys, respectively representing the power to lose or bind on earth and in heaven.
- Copper coins The Vatican City issues its own euro coins, which are legal tender in Italy and San Marino. The special edition has a portrait of Pope Francis on them. The First edition of Euro coins had Pope John Paul II – one of the most famous Poles.
- National Animal There is no official national animal for Vatican City; however it does have an unofficial one. The animal is the white dove which holds a sprig of an olive branch in its beak, and it symbolizes peace.
- National Flower – There is also no official national flower for Vatican City; however, some believe that lilies are the most fitting flowers because they signify purity.
- Flag – The Vatican flag is a half-split flag consisting of a yellow box on the left and a white box on the right. On the white half of the flag, there are crossed Peter’s Keys topped with a tiara. The flag of the Vatican has officially been in force since June 7, 1929.
- The Vatican coat of arms is the emblem is the two keys of St. Peter tied with a red cord under the silver tiara.
- The Vatican has as well its own National Anthem and own Stamps
The Vatican is the only country in the world that has Latin as one of its official languages. So a dead tongue is not so dead after all. In the Vatican, you can withdraw money from an ATM that displays the inscriptions in Latin.
Citizens of the Vatican City
The Vatican is the only country whose citizenship cannot be born in the Vatican because there is no delivery room here or outside its borders. Therefore, you can only obtain citizenship by working for the country. Vatican citizenship may also be obtained by members of the immediate family of the person acquiring citizenship, provided that they live with him in the Vatican.
The Holy See issues only diplomatic passports and service passports. Citizenship is lost after completing work for the Vatican.
All employees in the state do not pay taxes and use vouchers for duty-free Vatican shops.
The Vatican drinks the most wine in the world.
Wine consumption in the Vatican is the highest per capita. The Vatican consumes the most wine in the world. According to statistics from 2014, wine consumption is as high as 74 litres per person.
The history of this Basilica is fascinating with stories including Nero who had his own palace on this spot, Constantine I’s mother Helena who found a cross buried under what would be today’s altar and many other tales.
The first church, where the current basilica is standing was built over St. Peter’s grave. Construction of the basilica started in 150 AD under Emperor Claudius.
The original church was built because, according to tradition, St. Peter’s burial place had been forgotten and needed a memorial. It is one of the most sacred places for Catholics!
It was consecrated in 1626. Construction on the immense basilica began under Pope Julius II in 150i and ended with its completion during the reign of his successor Pope Clement XI (1700- 1721). The project was overseen by a succession of architects including Bramante and Michelangelo. It was financed through the sale of indulgences, which were granted to those who contributed money to constructions costs in order for them to be forgiven their sins. The church became a symbol of the Counter-Reformation and it was consecrated in 1626
St Peter’s Basilica is designed in such a way that it looks taller than its true height of 134 meters above the ground – this was a deliberate design choice by the architect Bramante, as he wanted to build an imposing structure that would overshadow and dominate Rome’s other buildings.
Pope Julius II founded the Vatican Museums in the 16th century.
There are 54 museums in total, the last of which is the Sistine Chapel with a ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and Stanze della Segnatura decorated by Raphael.
The Vatican museums are home to the world’s most extensive collection of works of art over 14 kilometres long, which can wrap four and a half times around the Vatican walls.
Vatican museums are a series of 1,400 rooms, chapels and galleries that make up the former wings of the Vatican Palace. And it’s the 5th biggest museum in the world.
The only UNESCO Site being the whole Country
The UNESCO Country The Vatican is the only country fully inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The list includes both the city of Vatican and extraterritorial properties in Rome, I. e. the Basilica of St. Peter and Saint Mary Major, as a World Heritage Site. it was listed in 1984
Swiss Guards is the Smallest and the Oldest Arm in the World. It is estimated to have been founded in 1460. Originally, its task was to protect Pope Julius II against any enemies or attackers of the Church. This included being armed and ready for battle at a moment’s notice. In addition, they served as bodyguards for the pope, under Popes Alexander VI (1492 -150), Leo X (1513-21) and Clement VII (1523-34).
In modern times, the Swiss Guard’s mission is to protect the Holy See from a terrorist attack. The guard also protects other people if they are of high rank such as heads of state visiting Vatican City. They have undergone anti-terrorist training and the guards are equipped with small arms.
To become part of the Swiss Guard you must be a Swiss citizen, at least in your 20s and physically fit. Swiss Guard can be married and their wives are the few female citizens in the Vatican.
John Paul II joked years ago that he lives in the most militarized country in the world. About every tenth citizen of the Vatican is a member of the Swiss Guard.
Tourism in Vatican City
Tourism in the Vatican City is managed by the Tourist and Cultural Office of the State.
The number of inhabitants in the Vatican is only about 800. However, the Pope’s audiences, sacred temples and visits of famous personalities mean that many tourists come here – usually over 5.5 million a year. It is in the Vatican that the largest number of tourists per person permanently resides here.
Since the Vatican has no tax revenue, it generates 90 percent of its revenue from museum fees, the sale of souvenirs, and donations from the faithful.
Shortest rail track in the world
The Vatican City is also home to what may be, by Guinness World Record standards, the shortest railway in the world. The train runs on a 400-meter track and has two stations: one at either end of it. The railroad tracks and the train station were built during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI.
Passetto di Borgo
The “Passetto di Borgo” is a covered fortified corridor that links the Vatican City with the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo. The passageway is almost one kilometer long and provided an escape to Pope Clement VII in 1527, when Holy Roman Emperor Charles V invaded Vatican and murdered priests and nuns.
Odd facts about the Vatican City
- The Vatican conducts astronomical research in Arizona, US, where Vatican has an astronomy department and operates one of the world’s largest telescopes – the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope.
- Vatican City has its own post office, telephone system, media outlets and even an ATM that displays the inscriptions in Latin.
- The Vatican added 7,000 LEDs to illuminate 6,000 square meters of the Sistine Chapel ceiling area.
- Italians, instead of paying to the Italian government, can donate 8% of their taxes to the Vatican City.
- Pope Residence is called Apostolic Palace (Palazzo Apostolico) and has over 1400 rooms.
- The Vatican City has a national soccer team.
If you are looking for a more interesting destination to visit, why not go somewhere that is different from the norm? The Vatican City in Rome has much history and culture. It also offers some respite from the crowds of tourists on the streets of Italy. We hope this post helped you learn about one more place worth visiting!
Facts about the Vatican City – Pin it
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