Vatican City: The Smallest Country In The World
Vatican is a City within Rome in Italy that is ruled by the Pope and serves as the world headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Covering an area of 44 hectares (110 acres), Vatican City stands on the Vatican Hill surrounded by Rome, the capital of Italy. The City is surrounded by medieval and Renaissance walls that separate it from the next City except at St. Peter’s Square on the south western flank of the City. Within the City, there are vast complex of courtyards, magnificent buildings, gardens and a well organized road network.
History:Emperor Constantine the Great was the first to lay the foundation of what is known today as the Vatican City. In the 4th Century AD, Emperor Constantine built a basilica over what is believed to be the tomb of Saint Peter, whom they claimed to be the first Pope. The Vatican Hill and the valley below was a secluded place used as burial ground and some part used for chariot races and other competitions before Emperor Constantine came in to build the basilica in memory of Apostle Peter. As time progresses, the basilica became an important place where the Roman Catholic used for most of their important functions.
In the 15th Century, the Popes who returned from Avignon in France took up official residence in the Vatican City and rebuilt the St. Peter basilica and the Vatican Palace to enlarge it’s capacity and beautify it with gardens, adding more buildings to the existing one to accommodate their governmental offices; because they (the Popes) administered the surrounding Papal States in Italy and it’s environs from the Vatican City.
In the late 16th Century, the Popes and the government of the Vatican moved to the Quirinal Palace, outside the Vatican City. In 1870, the government of Italy confiscated the Papal States and for 50 years, the Popes remained in the Vatican as self imposed prisoners, refusing to acknowledge the new Italian government. In 1929, Italian Prime Minister, Benito Mussolini and the representatives of Pope Pius XI brokered peace and the notorious Roman Question was resolved by the Lateran Treaty of 1929. The treaty demanded that the government of Italy should recognize the Vatican City as an independent state under the Popes and to compensate the Vatican City for damages over the years; and in return, the government of Vatican City will recognize Italy and its government in Rome.
Attributes: The Vatican City has been a centre for pilgrimage and tourism for many Centuries. There are amazing and awesome medieval Christian antiquities preserved in the Vatican City for visitors who may want to visit the City. One of the most amazing structures in the City is the St. Peter’s Basilica, a gigantic vast structure designed by classical artists such as Michelangelo, Gianlorenzo and Bramante and built between the 15th and 17th Centuries. The Basilica can seat up to 60,000 worshipers and it is the world worship center for the Roman Catholic Church.
The St. Peter’s square is another amazing piece of architecture constructed like a keyhole shape and rimmed by two massive semicircular arcades; with the obelisk brought from Egypt to Rome in the 1st Century by Emperor Caligula positioned at the center of the plaza. The Papal palace which is adjacent to the Basilica and Square is a complex of elegant structures that contain more than 1,000 rooms for guests, the Papacy government offices, Chapels and Museums, Library and the Papal apartments. The Papal Palace is adored with medieval paintings of artists like Micheangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pinturicchio, Luca Signorelli, Domenico Ghirlando and the great Raphael. The Museums include the Gregorian Museum of Egypt Art; the Gregorian Museum of Etruscan Art; the Pio Clemetino Museum; the Chiaramonti Museum; and the Vatican Pinacoteca. The Library contains more than a million bounded ancient manuscripts and other classical writings and books.
Economy:Vatican City derives revenue from contributions from Roman Catholic Churches around the world. It also generates revenue from the sales of souvenirs to tourists, stamps, fees collected for admission into museums. Through business participation it generates revenue from interests on investments, profits from their merchant bank and revenue from publications which they sell all over the world because of the goodwill and impact of Catholicism on the Christians. The Vatican City uses euro, although they are not part of the EU member.
Government: In 2001, Vatican City had an estimated population of 1,000 and the citizenship is gained by permanent residence and performance of assigned duties in the service of the Holy See, which is an acronym for the Vatican City. The City has its own flag, constitution, postal system, seal, radio station, rail road, telephone, newspaper, an army (Swiss Guard) numbering about 100 soldiers and other insignias of statehood. Swiss Guards maintain internal security and protect the pope.
Vatican City is ruled by the Pope and he holds absolute executive, legislative, and judicial powers. In practice, the executive powers are delegated to a governor, who is responsible to the Pope. The pope is advised and assisted by the Sacred College of Cardinals and by the various Sacred Congregations in decision making. The judicial powers are exercised by tribunals; appeals from their decisions are heard by the sacred Roman Rota and by the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature. The Secretariat of State represents the Holy See in international relations, and it sends diplomatic representatives to countries around the world. The Vatican embassy in any country is known as the Holy See, where visas are being issued to enter Vatican City.
Picture: Eustaquio Santimano from flickr.com