Vatican city (holy see), world's smallest country, is a tourist magnet thanks to the presence of some of Rome's most popular attractions, including the St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, home to the Sistine Chapel.
Vatican City is the capital of a functioning country as well as the home to several hundred people, including the Pope. Coming into existence in 1929, Vatican City is considered by population the second smallest country in the world. Indeed, there is no doubt that the Vatican is a tourist attraction. Many people plan for a lifetime to visit this popular location. St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are two of the city’s most popular buildings that are home to some of the most famous art in the world. And interestingly enough, it is not only Catholics who make the journey. In fact, people of all religious denominations and atheists alike are eager to visit the Vatican, also know as Vatican City or Vatican City State. Aside from the religious aspects of Vatican City, the location has substantial historical significance. The walls that surround the city are made from Medieval and Renaissance eras and Vatican City is the last remaining piece of the original Papal States. Another reason for such a large tourist draw is the fact that most of buildings within the city were built by famous architects and artists from the Italian Renaissance.
History of Vatican City
Vatican City wasn’t always this small. In the mid-19th century, the Papal States covered approximately 44,000 square km (17,000 sq mi). However, during the next decade and the struggle for Italian unification, the majority of these states officially became a part of the country of Italy. The pope’s power was abolished and the papal territory was confined to the Vatican. In 1929, the Treaty of Lateran gave The Holy See autonomy, officially establishing this tiny area that attracts millions of visitors each year. The city state is protected by its own military, the strangely-clad Swiss Guards.
Drapeau du vatican – Vatican Flag and Symbols
The the vatican flag or drapeau du vatican is has interesting looking. The flag consists of two vertical bands of yellow (the side of the shaft) and white with the center of the white band, the insignia of the Holy See, consisting of the crossed keys of Saint Peter surmounted by the tiara Papal at three levels. The yellow color represents the spiritual power of the pope , white symbolizes his temporal power. Symbol: crossed keys.
Historical Vatican City Facts and Information
- The Vatican is the world’s smallest fully independent nation-state.
- city has its own telephone system, post office, gardens, astronomical observatory, radio station, banking system, and pharmacy, as well as a contingent of Swiss Guards responsible for the personal safety of the pope.
- The most interesting building is St. Peter’s Basilica which was built during the 4th century and rebuilt in the 16th. It was built over the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle.
- There is still monarchy in Vatican City though it is not hereditary and is ruled by whoever becomes the Bishop of Rome, that is the Pope who is elected.
- The economy of the place is dependent on the printing industry, production of coins, postage stamps and financial activities. It is absolutely non-commercial and the economy is largely supported by the annual tax collected from the Roman Catholic dioceses all over the world. The sale of coins and postage stamps of Vatican City also earns it quite an amount of revenue. It is also a tourist place.
- There is no agricultural activity in the state as such.
- The literacy percentage is hundred percent and the languages spoken by the people of Vatican City are Latin, Italian, French and English.
- The ethnic groups that reside in the state are Italians, Swiss and many other nationalities from all over the world. There is not one nationality from which people reside there.
- The total land area of the state is approximately 0.44 square km and when compared in terms of land area it is only 0.7 times bigger than The Mall in Washington, DC.
- It is a landlocked country and does not have a coastline.
- There are no natural hazards to Vatican City
- It is an urban area and the population of the place is approximately 932. The growth rate of population is approximately 1.15%.
- The form of government there is ecclesiastical and there are no administrative divisions perse.
- The living standard and income of a worker is not much below comparison to an Italian worker, in fact it is comparable.
- There are not many roadways; most of them are only streets and lanes.
- Railways can traverse a maximum of 0.86 km.
- The flag of Vatican City has two bands of yellow, which are vertical and white, in the center of which are the crossed keys of Saint Peter and papal miter.
- The head of the State lives in The Lateran Place where the Lateran Treaty was signed.
- Much before Christianity arrived the place was considered sacred and people were not allowed to stay here.
- It is a great cultural hub from earlier times and artists like Michelangelo, Boticelli and Bernini stayed here and enhanced the already rich culture of Vatican City. There are museums and libraries that are of great intellectual and historical importance.
- Since it is a small state with a small population the crime rate is much higher than Italy and approximately 90% of the cases remain unsolved.
The transport and communication system of Vatican City is well developed.
Top Tourist Attarctions and Sightseeing
Vatican City is also home to the expansive Vatican Museums, which boasts one of the most impressive art collections in the world. Some of the most famous works of art on display here include the wall and ceiling paintings of the Sistine Chapel, the Stanze of Raphael, the Laocoön statue and the Apollo del Belvedere. A tour of the museums is a must for any visitor to Rome.
St Peter’s Basilica
The center piece of the Vatican, St Peter’s Basilica is the world’s most famous Christian church. The first church of St Peter was built here in 326, but the magnificent structure seen today was built between the 16th and 18th C. The enormous dome of St. Peter’s, another creation by Michelangelo, is accessed from an elevator to the roof. Once you’ve reached the top of the elevator, 323 additional steps take you to the best view of Rome from anywhere in the city. Until recently the largest church ever built, it remains one of the holiest sites in Christendom. Home to Michelangelo’s Pieta and many other stunning artworks, it’s possible to while away the better part of an afternoon inside, and often wise on a hot summer’s day.
After visiting the Basilica don’t miss the chance to visit the Grottoes where are the tombs of the Popes.
The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, Italy is one of the most famous chapels in the world. It is also the official home of the Pope. The chapel is the final stop that visitors make when they are taking a tour of the Vatican Museums. The Chapel has garnered much attention because of its amazing and intricate architecture and artwork that was carved and painted by some of the greatest artists of all time. It has a 12,000 square foot painted ceiling, parts of which were painted by Michelangelo. The paintings depict the life of Christ and Moses and took two to three years to complete. Other artwork by Raphael can be seen within the chapel. Because of these paintings, and the building’s purpose, the Sistine Chapel is considered a very holy and special place.
Vatican Gardens Tour
Access to the Vatican Gardens, an idyllic parkland set with villas, statues, and monuments, is restricted only to visitors on a guided tour. So, if gardens are your thing, this is the tour for you. The Vatican Gardens tour includes admission to the Vatican Museums (without a guided tour), a guided tour of the Vatican Gardens, and rental of audio-guides. The tour lasts approximately 2 hours. Note that there are no tours of the Vatican Gardens on Wednesdays or Sundays.
The Swiss Guards
Near the entrance of the basilica you will probably encounter some of the famous Swiss Guards. Since 1506 when pope Julius II invited Helvetian soldiers to join the small Vatican army, they have been the guards of the Vatican and the pope in particular. All entrants to the army must be Swiss, Catholic and they must take the oath of loyalty to the pope. This oath is taken May 26th, to commemorate the sacking of Rome on the same day in 1527 when Swiss guards protected pope Clement VII during his escape to Castel Sant’Angelo. Of the 189 guards, only 42 survived.