The Holy See, or Vatican City, is a sovereign city-state that is the spiritual and administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church. It is home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. In this article, we will explore 10 of the most interesting facts about the Holy See.
The smallest country in the world
The Holy See is the smallest country in the world, with a total area of just 44 hectares. It is so small that it can fit inside the city of Rome more than twice.
It has its own post office
The Holy See has its own post office, which is run by the Vatican City State. The post office has its own unique stamp designs, and letters sent from the Holy See bear a special postmark.
The Swiss Guard
The Swiss Guard is the smallest army in the world, with just over 100 members. They are responsible for the safety of the Pope, and their colorful uniforms and helmets are a popular tourist attraction.
The Pope’s summer residence
The Pope has a summer residence, called Castel Gandolfo, which is located about 24 kilometers southeast of Rome. The residence covers an area of 55 hectares and includes a beautiful garden.
The Sistine Chapel is home to some of the world’s most famous artwork, including Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the ceiling fresco that depicts scenes from the Book of Genesis.
The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are home to an extensive collection of art and artifacts, including ancient Roman and Etruscan artifacts, Renaissance art, and contemporary art.
The Vatican Library
The Vatican Library is one of the oldest and most extensive libraries in the world, with over 1.5 million volumes of books, manuscripts, and other documents.
The Pope’s chimney
When a new Pope is elected, the announcement is made by smoke rising from a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. Black smoke indicates that a new Pope has not been elected, while white smoke means that a new Pope has been chosen.
The Vatican Bank
The Vatican Bank, officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, is the only bank in the world that is located within a country’s borders but is not subject to that country’s laws.
The Pope’s car
The Pope travels in a customized Popemobile, a specially designed vehicle that is bulletproof and has a glass enclosure to protect the Pope from the elements. The Popemobile has become a symbol of the papacy and is often used during public appearances.
In conclusion, the Holy See is a fascinating and unique country that has a rich history and culture. Its iconic landmarks and institutions, such as the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums, and the Vatican Library, draw millions of visitors each year. Whether you are a devout Catholic or just interested in history and art, the Holy See is a must-see destination.