The Vatican is the smallest country in the world with an area of just 44 hectares which is located within Rome. Every year it is visited by about 5 million tourists and has a population of just 799 inhabitants (according to 2019 data). The entire territory of the Vatican is under the protection of UNESCO, and this is one of the distinguishing features that make it so special.
O awesome.club found that the uniqueness of the Vatican is reflected in several areas, as we will see below in each of the facts on our list. Check out!
1. 95% of the inhabitants are men
The population of the Vatican consists mainly of religious and military (Swiss Guards). Consequently, they are all men and represent 95% of the citizens. The rest of the people are secular, that is, those who do not submit to religious dogmas. These are the wives and children of the Swiss Guards.
2. Vatican citizenship is only granted for a specified period
Vatican citizenship is issued by the Secretariat of State. Passport #1 (photo: the Pope’s identity card and the Argentine passport) is traditionally issued to the current Pope, who must have no citizenship other than that of the Holy See. But there are certain exceptions: the current Pope Francis was able to retain his Argentine citizenship, while Benedict XVI had to give up his German citizenship.
State employees and their families have the right to obtain citizenship. A Vatican citizen’s passport is quite similar to a diplomat’s passport and is evidently not done very often. Upon completion of service to the Holy See, citizenship is automatically changed to Italian. From then on, it is no longer allowed to continue living in the territory of the enclave (Vatican). Children lose their citizenship after turning 18 or when their parents lose it.
3. The small state is entirely under the protection of UNESCO
The list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites is huge, but the Vatican is the only country that is fully protected by it. Each of its buildings is a historic monument.
4. The “Fresco Cleaner” and the ban on taking pictures in the Sistine Chapel
Many tourists go to the Vatican with just one goal: to visit the Sistine Chapel. Even a sophisticated traveler is awed by its sheer realism and grandeur. In addition, it can be contemplated infinitely and, therefore, there are benches to rest around its perimeter. Unfortunately, it is forbidden to take pictures inside and it is only allowed to speak in a low voice. There are specific employees who are there to ensure that visitors do not take pictures, but even so, people still manage to photograph masterpieces “behind the cloth”. And it is often possible to hear the words “Silence” spoken aloud, when there is no respect for the noise rule.
In 1543, the official position of “cleaner of frescoes” in the Sistine Chapel emerged. To be clear, the term “fresco” refers to paintings made on the walls and ceilings of religious institutions. Because of the settlement, the buildings suffered damage to their structure and, therefore, a series of restorations were necessary over the years. The walls and ceiling therefore had to be cleaned of soot, dust and exhaust fumes. The last restoration was around 25 years ago. Most of it was financed by the Japanese company Nippon Television Network Corporation, which spent 4.2 million dollars on this work (about 17.1 million reais).
5. On Good Friday, the Pope can be seen lying in front of the altar
Good Friday is the day of sacred services, one of which is known as the Passion of the Lord. It begins with the Pope wearing a red robe, lying down with his face to the ground, and the priests kneeling behind him. At that moment, everyone prays in complete silence, and then the Good Friday prayer is proclaimed.
6. In order for an ordinary woman to live in the Vatican, she needs to marry a Swiss Guard officer
Even if difficult, it is possible that an ordinary woman can work in the Vatican, in some radio station or in some newspaper. To live there, however, is almost impossible. There is at least one right way — marry a Swiss Guard. But there are some difficulties that need to be mentioned. Guards can only marry with special permission and after reaching a certain hierarchical rank in the military service. The bride-to-be will also have to undergo Vatican approval. Another interesting fact is that only single men are admitted to the Pontifical Swiss Guard.
7. The Vatican is the only country in the world with a zero birth rate
The main reason for this is that there is no maternity hospital in the territory of the State. Children of citizens living within the region are born in medical centers in Rome.
8. The Embassy of Italy in the Vatican is located on Italian territory
The Embassy of Italy in the Vatican is unique and is located on Italian territory. This is due to the fact that Vatican Square does not allow foreign institutions to be installed there. For this reason, various agreements were stipulated between Italy and the Vatican, according to which all embassies accredited by the Holy See would be located in Rome.
9. The enclave has its own gas station
No wonder that in an independent country, even a small one, there is its own gas station. Before jumping to conclusions, know that what distinguishes it is the price of gasoline. In the Vatican, prices are lower, and many Italians dream of filling up their cars there. Unfortunately, this is not allowed, as only cars with local numbers can fill up at the city gas station.
10. The local postal service is the most popular in the world
The famous Vatican post office is recognized as one of the best in the world. It works very efficiently and without major problems, so some Italians prefer to send letters from there. The local postal code is the most popular in the world, as the largest number of letters are sent through it. In one year, the enclave’s postal service sends around 2.5 million letters, 7 million postcards and around 20,000 parcels.
11. City-state stores are tax-exempt
But there’s no use running out looking for stores once you get there. Ordinary people don’t have access to them, unfortunately. The fact is that Vatican residents have some privileges, and this is one of them. Vatican stores are tax-free, with prices lower by 25%. This applies to food products, alcoholic beverages, perfumes, branded clothing and footwear.
12. The Vatican railway road is the shortest in the world
The length of the railway road is about 900 m, of which only 300 m pass through the territory of the Vatican. Previously, it was used exclusively for the Pope’s trips to Rome. But recently it was also opened for tourists.
13. The Apostolic Library of the Vatican has more than 1 million books
The library was founded in the 15th century by Pope Sixtus IV, and is regularly restocked. Today its collection includes approximately 1.6 million printed books, 150,000 manuscripts, 8,300 incunabula (referring to works printed between 1455 and 1500), more than 100,000 engravings and maps and 300,000 coins and medals. Every year the library is replenished with 6 thousand new books.
14. St. Peter’s Cathedral is one of the largest Christian temples in the world
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Peter is considered the greatest building of the Renaissance era. Its construction began in the mid-16th century, and ended just 120 years later. The length of the building is 220 m, width — 150 m, and height — 132.5 m. The cathedral has capacity for around 15,000 people, and the adjacent area for 80,000 people. Today it is the second largest Catholic cathedral. In 1989 it was overtaken by the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, in Ivory Coast.
15. Catholics around the world want to kiss the Pope’s hand
Since the Middle Ages there has been a tradition according to which everyone who visits the Pope must kiss his hand as a sign of respect and admiration. The pontiff (member of the main college of priests) wears the Fisherman’s Ring on this hand, also known as the anulus piscatoris in Latin, which is the indication that he is the heir of the Apostle Peter, who was involved in fishing. The ring has an image of Pedro throwing a fishing net from a boat.
The Pope’s ring is the main symbol of church power. Upon the Pope’s death or abdication, the ring is destroyed in the presence of other cardinals and this symbolizes the end of his regency. For the newly elected Pope, a new ring is made, which, according to the rule, must be made of gold.
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