Holy See – Vatican City, the residence of the Pope. The main attractions and works of art, the smallest country in the world, St Peter’s Basilica
Holy See | Vatican City | St Peter’s Basilica | St Peter’s Square | Famous Popes
Holy See – Vatican City is the capital of the Roman Catholic Church. It is one of the most famous visited countries on the planet. The Vatican City is famous for St Peters Basilica, St Peter’s Square, The Vatican Museums, Raphael, Michelangelo, and much more.
Below is some interesting Vatican City – Holy See information.
Yes, the Holy See – Vatican City is the smallest country in the world
As an independent city-state, the Vatican city covers is small – 100 acres. It is a monarchy and the head of state is the Pope. The Vatican is a business in its own – they print their own stamps, issue license plates and passports, mince its own euros, has its own media companies, own anthem, and flag. Vatican City makes its revenue from souvenir sales, admission tickets and donations ( According to the Wall Street Journal, the Vatican collects about $55 million a year through Peter’s Pence, an initiative set up by the Pope to help those most in need).
Catacombs below St Peter’s Basilica and the final resting place of St Peter
Not many people are aware of just how cruel emperor Nero was. In A.D. 64, a fire destroyed most of Rome. Emperor Nero shifted the blame to the Christians and accused them of starting the great fire. He rounded up Christians and burned them at the stake. His cruelty extended to victims being torn apart by wild animals and then being crucified. It is believed that the disciple of Jesus Christ, St Peter was one of the unfortunate to be crucified. St Peter was the first bishop of Rome and it is believed he was buried in a shallow grave. Emperor Constantine recognised the Christian religion in Rome and set out to construct a basilica above the burial grounds which also has intriguing catacombs at the base.
Emperor Caligula, The Circus, and the Egyptian Obelisk in the Vatican City
Holy See – Vatican Hill is not only famous for the suspected massacre of the Christians by Emperor Nero, but also a place where charioters trained for warfare. At the base of the Vatican Hills was also the home of Emperor Caligula’s mother. He had built a small circus in the gardens. He has his men went to Egypt and brought back the Egyptian Obelisk which was originally placed in Heliopolis. Weighing at a whopping 350 tons, it was made of a single piece of red granite and was striking in its appearance. It was brought back to be placed as a central attraction in the circus. You can now find this red granite structure adorning St Peter’s Square.
The Popes rebelled for nearly six decades
Italy was unified in 1870. Up till then, the popes ruled over the sovereign states. The new government had seized – leaving just a little of the Vatican. This created a divide between the church and the government. The government was not able to control The Vatican. For close to 6 decades the Pope’s refuse the authority of the Italian government. There was a stage where popes refuse to appear at the window no give blessings to the thousands of devotees below.
The Italian government gives in and the Vatican is declared a sovereign state
Mussolini, the head of the Italian government, signed the letter in 1929. The Vatican ( Holy See) was declared a sovereign state and the church was awarded 92,000,000 dollars food stamp The Vatican used that money to run the sovereign state.
Popes started living at the Vatican after the 14th century
The Pope’s residence was the Lateran Palace in Rome. They stayed there even after the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica. At one stage in the 1300s, the French had elected a French to become Pope. At that, all the Popes had moved out only to return in 1377. At that time, the Lateran Palace had burned down and the Basilica was in a terrible condition with scavenging and wondering animals.
Holy See | The story of the Swiss Guards
The Swiss guards with their distinctive uniforms have been protecting the Pope since 1506. Following the European tradition, Pope Julius II hired Swiss mercenary forces for his personal protection. The Swiss guard’s main focus is to protect the Pope. The Swiss guards a highly skilled and extensively trained. All the Swiss guards are Swiss.
During grim times, Popes had escape routes too!
An escape route for Popes was constructed in 1277. The Passetto di Borgo linked the Vatican to Castel Sant’Angelo. Located on the banks of the Tiber River, the castle came in use in 1527, when Roman Emperor Charles V, was murdering nuns and priests. Pope Clement VII managed to escape through the escape route to safety!
Holy See | The population of Rome is less than 1500 residents!
As of 2019, the estimated population of the Vatican City is 1000. Almost all of the citizens of the Vatican live inside the walls of the church or serve in diplomatic capacities around the world.
Holy See – Vatican City and starry nights
Astronomers at the Vatican Observatory were finding it increasingly difficult to view the skylights as the pollution in and around Rome expanded. In 1981, The Vatican Observatory set up a state of the art telescope at a research centre in southeast Arizona. Astronomical research has been carried out on Mount Graham ever since.