St. Peter's Basilica, designed by the legend, the great Michelangelo is situated in the Vatican City. Popularly known as the Mecca of Christians all over the world, the history of this city has always fascinated one and all. This article will reveal some of the lesser known facts about this country.
What is the capital of Vatican City?
The capital of the state of Vatican City is Vatican City. It is the only city inside a city.
The Holy See is the smallest independent state in the world, with land area covering approximately 110 acres and population of about 1000 inhabitants. The city is 0.6 miles (1.05 kilometers) long and 0.5 miles (0.85 kilometers) wide; the total boundary length is 2 miles (3.2 kilometers).
In spite of being a part of Italy, the Vatican City strangely stands out as an independent country. However, this was not always the case. The Lateran Treaty established the state after a long series of disputes with the Italian government. The Treaty made Vatican City independent in 1929 and with that the Roman Catholics earned a special place in Italy.
An Architectural Delight
- Stato della Città del Vaticano is the official name given to the Vatican City. It means "State of the City of the Vatican".
- The term Vatican finds its origin in Latin. It comes from the word Mons Vaticanus, meaning "Vatican Mount".
- Covering an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), the Vatican City is home to a population of about 1000.
- Built over the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle, St. Peter's Basilica was constructed during the 4th century. It was rebuilt in the 16th century and today is a major tourist attraction.
- Importing food, water, electricity, gas and other necessary essentials is a must.
- No income tax is exercised and no restrictions are laid on the import or export of money.
- A telephone system, astronomical observatory, radio station, post office, and banking system are all owned by the Vatican.
- 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.
- Vatican has no armed forces. Italy provides this Vatican City with military defense.
- About 0.8% of their yearly taxes can be donated by the Italians to the Vatican instead of paying it to the Italian Government.
- The UNESCO has declared the Vatican a World Heritage Site, making it the only site to encompass a whole country.
- The world-famous Vatican museums extend over 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!
- 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.
- Loggia of the Benediction is the name given to the balcony upon which the newly elected Pope stands. The first blessing called Urbi et Orbi is recited by the Pope from this balcony, when it is heard by millions of people all over the world.
- The languages spoken by the people of Vatican City include Latin, Italian, French, and English. It has the highest literacy rate of hundred percent. However, surprisingly, it has not established any language as official, under law.
- It is said that, after Pope Leo came a Pope Joan. However, it is claimed that the latter was, in fact, female. She was impregnated by a companion while holding position as the Pope. During a procession from St. Peter's Basilica to the Lateran, she delivered a baby in a narrow lane. On discovery of this fact, she was killed and buried at that same location.
- Autocracy is the form of government prevalent here. The Pope has complete power. However, he is assisted by a body of agencies known as the 'Curia'.
- Rome, the capital of Italy, completely surrounds the area of the Vatican.
- 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.
- The current military force of the Vatican constitutes The Pontifical Swiss Guards, better known as the Vatican Guards, who originally served as personal bodyguards to the Pope.