Interesting Facts about the Vatican City
Everyone knows that the Vatican is the center of the Roman Catholic religion, and is one of the centers of artistic Renaissance during the heydays of the Great Roman Empire. The Vatican has thus gained the reputation of being every pilgrim’s dream of visiting, and being part of the itinerary of traveling art lovers and enthusiasts. The Vatican is a place of religion and faith, and art and history. But there are a lot of things we have to know about the world’s center of the Roman Catholic religion. Read on, because we have listed down 10 facts about the Vatican that you may not know:
1. The Vatican is the smallest country on Earth.
The Vatican is a city-state that has its own government (headed by the Pope) and laws. It is independent from the rest of Italy despite its small, approximately 100-acre size. Despite this, however…
2. The Vatican houses the largest Church in the world.
St. Peter’s Basilica takes up almost 5% of the entire Vatican territory, standing at approximately 220 meters (730 feet) long and 150 meters (500 feet) wide. St. Peter’s Basilica can house up to 60,000 people, and admission is free.
The church was built directly above the area where St. Peter (one of Jesus Christ’s disciples) and several other Christians were executed by Emperor Nero during A.D. 64. The church was built by Emperor Constantine centuries later to honor the Christians who have fallen, especially St. Peter, the leader of the Apostles.
3. The obelisk in St. Peter’s Square is a giant sundial.
The giant pillar standing in the middle of St. Peter’s Square serves not just as a tall tourist attraction piercing the sky, it also tells people the time before clocks were invented!
4. Tourists don’t need to bring passports to enter the Vatican, because…
5. The Vatican doesn’t offer passport stamps.
This must be bad news for travel junkies and passport stamp collectors, but …
6. You may get postcard stamps from the Vatican’s own post office.
The Vatican prints its own unique postcard stamps, which you may buy from the post office. Of course, even if postcard stamps are entirely different from passport stamps that you collect, the former still serves as a good alternative, as you can’t get them anywhere else but there.
7. You may also collect the Vatican’s coins, which they mint themselves.
Euro coins in the Vatican are minted and produced specifically by the Vatican as well, and you can’t find them elsewhere. This is why there are claims that it’s hard to take hold of a Vatican euro coin—Vatican residents who spend them for practical reasons have to compete with coin collectors, who value the coins more than their monetary worth!
8. Nobody is born in the Vatican. Even Vatican citizens themselves are not born there.
There aren’t any hospitals within the Vatican territory, so all of its residents, which totaled 836 in July 2012, are all born outside of Vatican City. Vatican citizens themselves aren’t born inside the city-state.
9. The entire Vatican is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Vatican is the only entire country that is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This means that the entire territory is protected by UNESCO and recognizes the Vatican’s historical, cultural, artistic, and educational importance in the world. And therefore…
10. One must observe the rules by the city-state when visiting the Vatican. (There are do’s and don’ts inside the Vatican!)
Tourists, artists, pilgrims, and the like, should respect the rules and dress codes of the Vatican at all times, to help preserve its UNESCO significance.
One’s clothing must cover shoulder and knees, and should not reveal too much skin as to disturb people who preserve the sanctity of the Vatican City culture. This is strictly implemented within the independent state as people are carefully made to comply (there’s an entrance where people are also made to pass through an x-ray machine to ensure safety).
One must also observe the rules in taking pictures within the Vatican; picture-taking is not allowed inside certain parts of the Vatican Museum and within the Sistine Chapel.
With these new 10 facts in mind, one’s trip to Vatican City will certainly change. Just make sure to keep these in mind, and enjoy your trip to the world’s center of Christianity.
Sources: History in the Headlines, Viator Things To do, Free Tour Rome