Vatican City: An Overview of History, Amazing Facts and Things to Do

Vatican City is a small, independent city-state located within Rome, Italy. It is the smallest sovereign state in the world, encompassing only 0.44 km2 (0.17 mi2). The Vatican is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and the residence of the Pope, making it the spiritual center of the Catholic world. It is also a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year.

History of Vatican City

The history of Vatican City dates back to the 4th century AD, when Emperor Constantine moved the seat of the Roman Empire to the city of Byzantium, now known as Istanbul. In the 6th century, the city was renamed Constantinople and became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. In the 9th century, the city was sacked by Muslim forces, and the papacy moved to Rome.

In the 12th century, Pope Innocent III established the Papal States, a collection of territories in central Italy that were ruled by the Pope. In the 15th century, Pope Sixtus IV built the first walls around the Vatican, and in the 16th century, Pope Julius II built the massive walls that still stand today.

In 1870, the Italian government annexed the Papal States and declared Rome the capital of Italy. The Pope, however, refused to recognize the new government and declared himself a “prisoner of the Vatican.” In 1929, the Lateran Treaty was signed, which recognized the independence of Vatican City and established it as a sovereign state.

Amazing Facts About Vatican City

• Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, with a population of just over 800 people.

• It is the only country in the world that has no airport or train station.

• The Vatican has its own postal system and issues its own stamps.

• It is the only country in the world to have its own radio and television stations.

• The Vatican Library is one of the oldest and most important libraries in the world, with over 75,000 manuscripts and 1.1 million books.

• The Vatican Museums are home to some of the world’s most famous works of art, including the Sistine Chapel.

Things to Do in Vatican City

• Visit St. Peter’s Basilica: St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world and the most important site in the Catholic world. It is home to many famous works of art, including Michelangelo’s Pieta.

• Explore the Vatican Museums: The Vatican Museums are home to some of the world’s most famous works of art, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms.

• Take a Tour of the Vatican Gardens: The Vatican Gardens are a beautiful oasis of green in the heart of the city. They are home to many rare plants and animals, and offer stunning views of Rome.

• Attend a Papal Audience: Every Wednesday at 10am, the Pope holds a public audience in St. Peter’s Square. It is a unique experience and a great way to meet people from all over the world.

• Visit the Vatican Observatory: The Vatican Observatory is one of the oldest astronomical research centers in the world. It is home to some of the world’s most powerful telescopes and is open to the public.

• Go Shopping: The Vatican City has its own shops selling souvenirs, books, and other items related to the Catholic Church. It is also home to some of the world’s most exclusive boutiques.