The Vatican City in Rome a.k.a. the Holy See as it is often know is the home of the Pope and the Christian world. Steeped in history this small state is visited daily by the thousands. Lets take a look at some of the interesting facts through
the years on this historical site.
1. Smallest Landmass Of any other country, the Vatican City holds the record for the smallest landmass. Displaying only streets and no highways, the Vatican City is landlocked by Italy with a total land area of 0.44 square kilometers.
2. Official Language While many significant documents are written in Italian, the Vatican does not actually have an official language. About the community, people speak Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.
3. It’s pretty surprising that the Vatican acknowledges that life on other planets is theoretically possible and this is an official stance. This statement was actually publicly made in 2006 by Father Jose Funes, whose title is director of the Vatican’s observatory. However, whatever the life forms would be, the Vatican feels that they would be one of God’s creations.
4. Not only is the Vatican City the smallest country in the world, but it also harbors the smallest population with an estimated 1,000 people calling the region his or her home.
5. The Vatican has its own post office that issues their own stamps. Interestingly, the Vatican mail system is quite popular amongst the people as in many cases; the Romans find that the Vatican mail is faster than the typical Italian postal service. Beyond the many tourist knick-knacks, the postage stamps also contribute to the largest export of the Vatican state serving as one of the primary sources of internal revenue.
6. Located in a tower inside the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican has a radio station that broadcasts in 20 different languages across the world.
7. The Vatican City is recognized as possessing a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site status, as it is the only site to encompass a whole country.
8. Instead of paying their taxes to the Italian government, Italians are allowed to donate 8% of their yearly taxed to the Vatican.
9. In 2007, the Vatican made moves to become the first carbon neutral state, choosing the offset their carbon footprint by establishing a forest in Hungary.
10. Historical documentation reveals that St. Peter was crucified at or near the Neronian Gardens on Vatican hill and buried at the foot of the hill directly under where the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica now stands. Excavations at the basilica between 1940 and 1957 located the tomb believed to be St. Peter’s.
11. The Vatican is an absolute monarchy. Full legislative, judicial and executive authority resides with the pope.
12. It is the world’s second-largest Christian church after the Yamoussoukro Basilica in Cote D’Ivoire. St. Peter’s is not a cathedral, which is a bishop’s principal church. The pope is the bishop of Rome, and his cathedral church is in Rome.
13. Built on the foundation of the first St. Peter’s, the new basilica took 120 years to complete. Masonry, sculpture, painting and mosaic work continued for nearly another 200 years.
14. The dome of the basilica was designed by Michelangelo, and is 122m (400 feet) tall and 42m (138 feet) in diameter.
15. The church is shaped like a cross and is almost 213m (700 feet) long, 137m (450 feet) wide at its widest point, and stands on more than 18,000 square yards.
16. In the grottoes or necropolis, beneath the basilica, is a papal burial chamber. The tombs of many popes, including St. Peter (the first pope), are located here.
17. The Vatican Palaces consist of several connected buildings with over 1,000 rooms. Within the palaces there are apartments, chapels, museums, meeting rooms and government offices.
18. The Palace of Sixtus V is the Pope’s residence.
19. The Sistine Chapel was designed by architect Giovanni dei Dolci. The decorations by Pier Matteo d’Amelia, Michelangelo, Raphael and others continued for sixty years after construction was completed.
20. In the year 320AD construction begins on the first St. Peter’s, by order of Constantine the Great.
21. Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chape 1508-1512.
22. On February 11, 1929 the Lateran Pact was signed between the Holy See and Italy establishes the Vatican City State, the smallest independent nation in the world, covering only 109 acres.
23. November 24, 2013 – The Vatican exhibits the bones of a man long believed to be St. Peter, one of the founding fathers of the Christian church, for the first time.
24. 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.
25. The literacy percentage is hundred percent and the languages spoken by the people of Vatican City are Latin, Italian, French and English.
26. 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.
27. The living standard and income of a worker is not much below comparison to an Italian worker, in fact it is comparable
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. The Swiss Guard is the official guard of the Vatican and the Pope. This unit was originally established in about 1505 by Pope Julius II. There are 110 soldiers and 6 officers in the unit. They all wear very colorful and unique uniforms that some say were designed by Michelangelo. It was introduced by commandant Jules Repond in 1914.
31. At the center of St. Peters Square is a beautiful Egyptian obelisk. Built in the ancient Egyptian city of Heliopolis during the 5th dynasty, this impressive work of art took over a year to re-erect after it brought to Vatican City in the mid-16th century. It was originally topped with a gilt ball that was believed to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar. The manner in which the obelisk was set up in the elaborate stonework floor of the square enabled it to be used as a sundial.
32. St. Peter. Constantine, who was the first Christian emperor of Rome, ordered the building of a basilica. For the location he chose the location where Saint Peter was said to have buried after his crucifixion in 64 AD. This church was not completed until about 349 AD.
33. Vatican City is the only widely recognized independent state that has not become a member of the United Nations.
34. In order to qualify as member of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, the personal bodyguard of the Pope, recruits must be a Catholic, unmarried male with Swiss citizenship who has completed his basic Swiss Army training and be at least 5 ft 9 in tall.
35. Out of the six entrances, only three – the Piazza, the Arco delle Campane and the entrance to the Vatican Museums and Galleries, can be used by the public.
36. The Vatican’s own Post Office is popular among the Romans owing to its speed as compared to the Italian mail. They also issue their own stamps.
37. The Vatican museums extend over 14,480km (9 miles). It is believed that it would take you 4 years to complete the circuit even if you spend merely 1 minute admiring each painting!
38. ATM users in Vatican City are still given the option to use Latin to perform transactions. The Vatican Bank is the only one in the world to do so.
39. There are 551 steps from St Peter’s to the Cupola of the dome in which is a favourite viewing stop for tourists.
40. Upon the appointment of Pope Francis there has now been a total of 266 popes in the history, starting with St Peter in 32AD.
To reach the Vatican City from Alessandro Palace & Bar (Via Vicenza 42, 00185, Rome):
Take Metro line A from Roma Termini station for Battistini direction.
Get off at Ottaviano stop then 10 minutes on foot to the St. Peter’s square (Piazza di San Pietro).
It takes about 30-40 minutes.
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