Discover the Wonders of Vatican City -
the State within a City
This is probably one of the most well-known places in the world. It is the heart of Catholicism and covers the Vatican City state. The tiniest city in the world, it houses more significant history and works of art than anywhere else in the world. Sometimes referred to as the Holy See, it is the official residence of the Pope, head of the Catholic Church. Tourists travel to this part of the world to experience the grandeur of this tiny piece of land and explore the birth of Christian civilization.
Vatican City is located at the exact location where Saint Peter was martyred some 2000 years ago. This is also the burial ground of the saint and it has always been regarded as a significant spot for the Papal State. Before 1860 a big part of Central Italy was ruled by the Papal States. It was the Pope who was considered to be the ultimate authority. Their empire was guarded and fortified by hired mercenaries and armies gathered from different parts of the world.
But by the year 1860, the power of the Papal State slowly waned. Most of its states were integrated into the Kingdom of Italy. Rome was the last state to yield in 1870. The Lateran Treaty signed in 1929 allowed the formation of the State of the Vatican City. From then on, the smallest state in the world is presided over by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.
It was Emperor Constantine who finally embraced and recognized Christianity in 326 AD. He erected a Basilica over the saint's tomb. Pope Pius ordered the site to be excavated to find out if Saint Peter's tomb can really be found here. When the Basilica was completed, other buildings were built nearby to engage in religious activities.
The power of the Pope and the Catholic Church shifted when Rome capitulated to Italy in 1870. Although the works of the Pope were recognized and the Catholic Church was left to perform its duties, they felt imprisoned. The Lateran Treaty of 1929 gave the Vatican State its autonomy. It was an agreement established by Benito Mussolini, Pope Pius XI, and King Victor Emmanuel III.
Main Tourist Attractions
Vatican City is synonymous to Catholicism and art. For the art connoisseurs, the Vatican City holds a collection of world-renowned sculptures, architecture, paintings, and a lot more. Many Popes in the past often commissioned great Renaissance artists to do artworks and Vatican City owns some of the most popular works from the greatest artists like Raphael and Michelangelo. Although there are many areas that are restricted to tourists, a visit to the Vatican City will take you to some amazing treasures and historical sites.
Uniqueness of the Country
Vatican City is perhaps one of the most unique countries in the world because not only it is the smallest state but its affinity to religion and art sets it apart. Their government system and financial affairs are not run in a traditional way. Their economic structure does not follow a conventional system therefore it cannot be described by discussing the sectors found in a traditional government system. Additionally, every corner of the city is distinguished by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
Even though Vatican City is recognized as a country with its own government, it does not occupy a seat in the United Nations. However, the residents here can truly say that their existence is unlike any other. What keeps the peace in Vatican City is an army of hired mercenaries, imported from Switzerland. Latin language is still used here and the Pope enjoys his own train station. A post office also exists within the Vatican City walls.
Vatican City's celebration of Christmas is very grand and symbolical. A mass is held on Christmas Eve officiated by the Pope himself. The festivals that are held in it are celebrated with the goal to observe the Catholic faith and its saints. They also commemorate arts and music and any profit earned from the events is donated to charities supporting arts.
Respecting the elderly is valued within Vatican City. Respect is a virtue that is seriously observed within these walls. The people are warm and welcoming of visitors. When eating, it is considered rude to hide your hands under the table. The culture of the Vatican City has much to do with the church as to be expected.