Secrets of the Vatican
The center of Roman Catholic church is shrouded in mystery. Let’s take a look at some of the activities in this unique nation.
The smallest country in the world is surrounded on many sides by walls. Most of these fortifications were built in the 16th c. According to legend the Vatican City is built around the grave of St Peter who was crucified upside down. Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, ordered the building of the Basilica around 64 AD. Later the main architects involved in the restoration and reconstruction were Bramante and Michelangelo.
More than half of the land area is taken up by Vatican Gardens. The beautifully ornate gardens were established during the Renaissance & Baroque areas and have many fountains and sculptures. It is situated on the Vatican Hill.
It is governed as an absolute monarchy, mints its own Euros, prints its own stamps, issues passports, license plates and has its own flag, anthem and even a football team. Interestingly in spite of the majority of its 600 odd citizens live abroad, it has the highest wine consumption rate per capita in the world
Benito Mussolini signed Vatican City into existence after the dispute between the Catholic Church and the Italian government ended in 1929. After signing the Lateran Pacts, it was allowed to exist as its own sovereign state and compensated with US$ 92 million.
They remained neutral during the WWII. Germany occupied Rome in 1943, the Vatican City had been left alone. They did not even join the Axis Powers with Italy. Under the leadership of Pope Pius XII they remained neutral throughout the war.
The Vatican museums display works from the immense collection amassed over centuries. The museums contain over 70,000 works out of which only 20,000 are on display. There are 54 galleries, with the Sistine Chapel notably, being the last gallery within the museum
The Swiss guards provide the internal security for the Vatican and the Pope. In 1506, Pope Julius II established the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Each recruit must be a single male of Swiss citizenship between the ages 19 and 30 and required to complete military training in Switzerland. Their eye-catching colorful uniforms are called Gala uniforms and has been worn by the Guards since 1910. The uniforms are destroyed after they complete their service.
Some of the urinals are shaped like Virgin Mary. As strange as this may sound, it is true. There are urinals that have the Virgin Mary on the top and it looks like you are making your offering of nature into her abdomen. The Virgins head is angled so that she appears to be looking the general area of the stomach.
Primary source of internal revenue is their Postage Stamps. These stamps are highly collectible to many philatelists. It does not have an official language by law. Only two countries in the world that do not have laws for divorce: Vatican & Philippines.
Several times during the Vatican’s history, the popes escaped through a secret passageway. In 1277, a half a mile long elevated covered passageway was constructed to link the Vatican with the fortified Castel Sant Angelo on the banks of the Tiber River.
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