All About the Wonderful Vatican City: Smallest Country in Europe - ConnollyCove (2023)

The Vatican is the smallest country in Europe, with an area of 0.49 km2. It is also the smallest in terms of population, estimated at (800) in 2019.

It is an independent state and a landlocked European country surrounded by Italy, lying close to the Tiber River, on Vatican Hill, in the centre ofRome.

The country is surrounded by medieval walls, except in the southeastern part of Piazza San Pietro. It has six entrances, three of which are open to the public: the entrance to the Bell Arch, St. Peter’s Square, and the Vatican Museums and Galleries.

Language in the Vatican

The Vatican has no official language. Although the Holy See‘s official language is Latin, many languages are spoken there, including German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and French.

History of Vatican City

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The Vatican is a sacred place in the Christian religion, bearing witness to a great history. It contains a unique collection of masterpieces of art and architecture.

After Rome burned in 64 AD, Emperor Nero executed St. Peter and a group of Christians as scapegoats and accused them of starting the fires. The execution occurred in Vatican Heights, and they were buried in a cemetery there.

In 324, a church was built over the tomb of St. Peter, turning it into a pilgrimage centre for Christians. This led to the centring and development of Christian clergy homes around the church.

In 846, Pope Leo IV ordered the construction of a wall to protect the Holy Precinct, about 39 feet long.
The wall surrounded the city of Leonine, which is the area that includes the current Vatican and the Borgo region. This wall was constantly expanded until the era of Pope Urban VIII in the forties of the seventeenth century.

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The popes retained absolute power over the territories of the Vatican, known as the Papal States, until 1870, when the unified Italian state emerged and took control of all the papal lands outside the walls of the Vatican. The new state tried to impose its authority on the Vatican, and the confrontation between the church and the Italian state lasted for sixty years.

In 1929, the Lateran Agreement was signed by Benito Mussolini on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III with the Pope. Under the agreement, the Vatican was declared a sovereign entity independent from Italy.

Administration of Vatican City

The Vatican is an independent state run by the clergy, which in turn reports to the Pope and a bishop elected by the cardinals. The Pope usually assigns the Prime Minister to handle political affairs.

Weather in Vatican City

The Vatican has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cold, rainy winters. Temperatures range from 12 to 28 degrees Celsius.

More Information About Vatican City

  • The city has a regular army, considered one of the oldest armies in the world and known as the Swiss Guard. The army consists of about a hundred men who are considered the private guards of the Pope.
  • There are no air or naval forces, as the external defence tasks are left to the Italian state, which surrounds the Pope’s residence from all sides.
  • The Vatican is the only country where there are no children.
  • All the workers in this city are the clergy, and they are the only ones who have the right to live in this city, while the rest of the non-church workers live in Italy.

Tourism in Vatican City

Vatican City is a popular tourist destination in Europe. It has a great location and can be easily reached when visiting Rome.

UNESCO added the Vatican to the world heritage list, including many tourist attractions and religious sites dating back to ancient times, especially the Roman and Medieval eras.

Among its famous destinations are St. Peter’s Basilica, the chapel of the Church, the Vatican Palace, beautiful museums, and more.

Now we will learn more about essential landmarks in the Vatican City:

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St. Peter’s Cathedral

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St. Peter’s Cathedral is in the northern part of Rome. It dates back to the 16th and 18th centuries and is where St. Peter was buried.

It contains a collection of beautiful and rare pieces of art. The cathedral is characterised by huge bronze doors and a high dome that reaches 119 metres in length and can host around 60,000 people due to its vast size.

You can look at the dome structure from the inside and enjoy its beautiful views of St. Peter’s Square. A crypt under the church includes many tombs housing symbols of the ancient era, with many tours exploring the crypt.

Saint Peter’s Square

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Saint Peter’s Square is in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, dating back to 1667. It can accommodate nearly 200,000 people who gather inside it on important and momentous occasions.

The square extends over an area of 372 metres and is decorated with 140 statues of saints. There are fountains on both sides and in the centre. There is also an Egyptian obelisk that was moved to the square in 1586.

Vatican Library

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Vatican Library is one of the wealthiest libraries in the world. It contains many important and rare historical manuscripts dating back to 1475, 7,000 of which date back to 1501 alone. There are also 25,000 handwritten books dating back to the Middle Ages and a total of 80,000 manuscripts collected since the library was informally founded in 1450.

Sistine Chapel

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The Sistine Chapel is a Catholic chapel built in 1473 and was ready to open on 15 August 1483. Its unmatched Renaissance architecture distinguishes it from other monuments. The chapel was restored from 1980 to 1994 and is filled with beautiful artistic murals, the most notable of which is its ceiling which Michelangelo famously painted.

The Sistine Chapel now serves as the official residence of the Pope inside Vatican City and is used for special occasions.

Gregorian Egyptian Museum

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Gregorian Egyptian Museum in Vatican City was re-established in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI. Much of the museum’s collection was brought from Villa Adriana at Tivoli, where they were collected and owned by Emperor Hadrian.

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The museum contains nine rooms showcasing a collection of beautiful Egyptian art from the 6th millennium BC to the 6th century BC, like wooden coffins, statues of pharaonic gods, inscriptions, ancient Egyptian writings, and much more.

There, you will also find an art collection dating back to ancient Mesopotamia, in addition to vases and bronzes from Syria and the Assyrian palaces.

Chiaramonti Museum

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Pope Pius VII founded Chiaramonti Museum in the 19th century, and it focuses on works of Greek and Roman art. Tourists will enjoy seeing a group of the most beautiful imperial statues and another group of sculptures dating back to various and different eras of Greek history.

Cappella Niccolina

Cappella Niccolina is a small chapel located in the Vatican Palace. The chapel has a small entrance built to be a chapel for Pope Nicholas V. It is adorned with impressive lavish frescoes painted by the genius artist Fra Angelico and his assistants.

Vatican Necropolis

The Vatican Necropolis is where previous popes have been buried in private chapels and the accompanying 12th-century chapel. There are also monuments, including stone arches and pediments dating back to the 5th century. The most significant is a tomb believed to contain the remains of St. Peter, a relic that the Vatican continues to excavate with great care.


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Although many of the treasures of this gallery were stolen by Napoleon, it now contains 16 diverse art rooms featuring priceless treasures from the Byzantine Middle Ages to contemporary artworks.

The pictures there give an insight into the development of Western painting. You will find a wonderful assortment of paintings and exhibits by some of the most renowned artists of ancient and modern times.

Momo Staircase

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The Momo Staircase, or Bramante Staircase, is located in the Vatican Museums and was designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932. If you climb this large spiral ramp, you will move from the street to the floor of the Vatican Museum, one of the world’s most important museums.

The staircase forms a double helix consisting of two interlocking spirals; one leads down, the other up. The stairs are beautifully and attractively decorated.

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Saint Martha’s House

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Saint Martha’s House is located south of St. Peter’s Basilica, named after Martha of Bethany. The building is a guest house for clergy members, and Pope Francis has lived there since his election in 2013.

The house consists of two adjoining five-story buildings with a modern chapel, a large dining room, a library, a conference room, 106 junior suites, 22 single rooms, and a large state apartment.

Vatican Gardens

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If you are a fan of picturesque nature, you should visit the Vatican Gardens, which enjoy a privileged location northwest of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Apostolic Palace.

The gardens also include a group of picturesque fountains, the most famous ones are the Eagle Fountain and the Fountain of the Blessed Sacrament, in addition to containing a group of shrines.

Apostolic Palace

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The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the reigning Pope and is located northeast of St. Peter’s Basilica. However, Pope Francis prefers to stay at Saint Martha’s House.

Despite the palace’s name, it is also used for administrative functions. Many administrative offices within the palace are used to manage the government functions of the Vatican State.

The palace also has many outstanding features, as it has become one of the best tourist attractions in this city and contains many beautiful gardens, aquariums, museums, and natural institutes inside it.

The Vatican is a country with a rich religious history that inspires all the history buffs out there. As you’re planning your trip around the country, make sure to include the most famous attractions in Rome to indulge in Italian history fully.

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What makes Vatican City the smallest country? ›

Based on landmass, Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, measuring just 0.2 square miles, almost 120 times smaller than the island of Manhattan. Situated on the western bank of the Tiber River, Vatican City's 2-mile border is landlocked by Italy.

Is Vatican City the smallest country in Europe? ›

Vatican City

The Vatican City State is considered the smallest country in Europe. With a tiny area of only 0.17 sq mi, this tiny city-state is located in the centre of Rome, which is the capital city of Italy.

Why is Vatican City the smallest city? ›

Though every country defines the word "city" differently, meaning some cities host populations of only a handful of residents, Vatican City is generally considered to be the smallest city by population size as well as by area. It has a population of only about 800 people, just over half of whom are citizens.

Is Vatican City the smallest city in the world? ›

At 0.19 square miles, Vatican City is the smallest nation in the world. This city-state has a population of 825 people, and is surrounded by Rome, Italy. Home to the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, learn more about the world's tiniest country. Vatican City is home to the Pope and St Peter's Basilica.

What is the 2 smallest country in the world? ›

Where the Vatican's power lies in religion, plenty of spending power is held by the tiny country of Monaco, the second smallest country on Earth. Situated along the French Riviera, Monaco is surrounded entirely by France—but it also sits fewer than 10 miles from the Italian border.

Why is Vatican City so famous? ›

The Centre of Christianity since the foundation of Saint Peter's Basilica by Constantine (4th century), and at a later stage the permanent seat of the Popes, the Vatican is at once the pre-eminently holy city for Catholics, an important archaeological site of the Roman world and one of the major cultural reference ...

What is the name of the smallest country in Europe? ›

By surface area, France is the largest EU country and Malta the smallest.

What is the 7 smallest country in the world? ›

7 Smallest Countries in the World
  • Vatican City. Area: 0.44 Km2. Location: Europe. ...
  • Monaco. Area: 2.02 km2. Location: Western Europe. ...
  • Nauru. Area: 21 Km2. Location: Australia. ...
  • Tuvalu. Area: 26 Km2. Location: North-East of Australia. ...
  • San Marino. Area: 61 Km2. Location: Europe. ...
  • Liechtenstein. Area: 160 Km2. ...
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Mar 14, 2020

Is Vatican City a country Yes or no? ›

The Vatican is the home of the Catholic Church. With just a 2-mile city border, the entire city is less than one-eighth the size of Central Park in New York. Despite its incredibly small nature, the Vatican is indeed a city-state and the smallest country in the world.

Can you live in the Vatican City? ›

The clergy (those who contribute to the operation of the Vatican City religiously) and the Swiss Guards who 'defend' the Vatican City are the only people allowed to reside inside the Vatican City.

How old is Vatican City? ›

What's the smallest place in the world? ›

Vatican City

Has anyone been born in the Vatican? ›

No one is born in the Vatican State

Although the Vatican City is home to approximately 1,000 residents no one is born there. This sounds like a riddle doesn't it? Unlike most other countries in the world, citizenship in Vatican City isn't solely provided to people that are born in the country.

How many houses are there in Vatican City? ›

According to a report issued by the COSEA commission, thousands of Roman apartments run by 26 different institutions “linked to the Holy See”, fit this description.

What is the original meaning of Vatican? ›

Etymology. From Latin Vātī̆cānus (“Vatican Hill”), from vāticinārī (“to prophesy, oracle”), from vātēs (“soothsayer, prophet”) +‎ cinor (“to sing”) (the latter is from canō), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *weh₂t- (“to be excited, inspired, possessed”).

What are the 3 smallest countries? ›

The three smallest countries in the world are Vatican City, an enclave within Rome, Italy. Monaco, a principality at the Mediterranean coast and an enclave within Southern France, and Nauru, an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.

What are the 5 smallest countries in Europe? ›

10 of the smallest countries in Europe
  1. Vatican City (0.44 km2) Technically, the tiny walled enclave of Vatican City is not a country but a 'sovereign city-state' ruled by the Pope. ...
  2. Monaco (1.95 km2) ...
  3. San Marino (61 km2) ...
  4. Liechtenstein (160 km2) ...
  5. Malta (316 km2) ...
  6. Andorra (468 km2) ...
  7. Luxembourg (2,586 km2) ...
  8. Cyprus (9,251 km2)
May 5, 2020

In which country no child is born? ›

No one is born in the country, but it has citizens

In fact, it is granted to those who stay in Vatican because of their office or work.

Do they speak English in Vatican City? ›

Latin and Italian are the official languages; however, the later is by far the most widely used. As Vatican City is a major tourist destination, English is also widely spoken, particularly by Vatican workers, who often speak several European languages in addition to English, Italian, and Latin.

Where is the smallest city in Europe? ›

1. VATICAN CITY: At 110 acres and with 800 people, it is the world's smallest independent city-state. 2. SAN MARINO: Capital of the Republic of San Marino, its 4500 people live in the world's oldest sovereign state.

Which is the smallest country answer? ›

The Vatican City is the smallest country in Europe. It is also the smallest country in the world. The Vatican City is located in the city of Rome.

What are smallest countries called? ›

Commonly accepted examples of microstates include Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Nauru, Palau, San Marino and Tuvalu. The smallest political entity recognized as a sovereign state is Vatican City, with fewer than 1,000 residents and an area of only 49 hectares (120 acres).

What are the 6 smallest countries? ›

What are the top 10 smallest countries?
  • Vatican City (0.19 square miles)
  • Monaco (0.78 square miles)
  • Nauru (8.1 square miles)
  • Tuvalu (10 square miles)
  • San Marino (24 square miles)
  • Liechtenstein (62 square miles)
  • Marshall Islands (70 square miles)
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis (101 square miles)
Nov 16, 2022

What is oldest country in the world? ›

Here are the countries World Population Review lists as the oldest in the world by date of earliest known organized government:
  • Iran - 3200 BCE.
  • Egypt - 3100 BCE.
  • Vietnam - 2879 BCE.
  • Armenia - 2492 BCE.
  • North Korea - 2333 BCE.
  • China - 2070 BCE.
  • India - 2000 BCE.
  • Georgia - 1300 BCE.
Jan 18, 2023

Which country has only one city? ›

With the rise of nation states worldwide, only a few modern sovereign city-states exist, with some disagreement as to which qualify; Monaco, Singapore and Vatican City are most commonly accepted as such.

How does the Vatican get money? ›

The Holy See is the governing body of the nation and generates money through donations; it then invests a portion of that money in stocks, bonds, and real estate. Vatican City generates revenue through museum admissions and the sale of coins, stamps, and publications.

Do you need a passport to enter the Vatican? ›

To enter Vatican City, you don't need a passport or Visa or even tickets for the attractions inside. You can simply walk inside. However, if you wish to enter the attractions inside, such as the Vatican Museums, you would need to buy tickets.

How much money does the Vatican have? ›

Sources of income

The total income for the 2022 budget ($887 million) comes from four distinct sources. First, self-generated revenue from services (such as the hospital), real estate management of Vatican properties, financial income from investment and commercial income. This counts for 65 percent of the income.

Can you sleep in Vatican City? ›

He basically stated that there was a loophole towards sleeping in the Vatican. You can observe homeless people do it every night and the trick is to be on the outside of the low Vatican fence, which surrounds St. Peter's Square, but inside the curbs which mark the border between the Vatican City and Italy.

Can you wear blue jeans to the Vatican? ›

For instance, lightweight trousers made from linen or cotton are perfect and meet the Vatican dress code standards. The all-weather all-environment jeans work too, but you might want to take precautions when it comes to wearing shirts and shorts. A skirt can do fine but a mini skirt is an absolute no-no.

Can you drink in Vatican City? ›

You can bring water from a plastic bottle. Glass bottles will be taken off you or you may be allowed to leave them in the cloakroom if the bottle is important to you. Drinking your own alcohol is completely forbidden in the Vatican.

Who is the owner of the Vatican? ›

The Holy See is the universal government of the Catholic Church and operates from Vatican City State, a sovereign, independent territory. The Pope is the ruler of both Vatican City State and the Holy See.

How many years did it take to build the Vatican? ›


The pope is the bishop of Rome, and his cathedral church is in Rome. Built on the foundation of the first St. Peter's, the new basilica took 120 years to complete.

Who built the Vatican City? ›

As a result over the next two centuries, many other Christians chose their burial site close to the memorial. The Vatican as we know it began under the emperor Constantine. He built the first St.

What is the 2 smallest city in the world? ›

Here's five of the world's 'smallest' cities:
  • St Asaph – the newest and second least-populated city in the UK. ...
  • Vatican City – the world's smallest city-state by geographical area and population. ...
  • Maza – the former least populated city in the USA. ...
  • City of London – a city within a city.

What is smaller than a city called? ›

A village is a small community. A town is usually an incorporated community that is larger than a village. Finally, a city is a large or important town.

What is smaller than a city? ›

A town is generally larger than a village, but smaller than a city. Some geographers further define a town as having 2,500 to 20,000 residents. Towns usually have local self-government, and they may grow around specialized economic activities, such as mining or railroading.

Is there a jail in the Vatican? ›

Vatican City Has No Prison

Vatican City is likely the only nation on Earth to not have a prison. The country does have a few cells for pre-trial detention. Those convicted and sentenced to imprisonment serve time in Italian prisons as per the Lateran Treaty.

Can anyone get married in the Vatican? ›

Apart from being famous for pilgrimage, it is possible to obtain a permission for a Catholic Wedding for non residents inside one of the Chapels of the Basilica. Catholic weddings usually are allowed in the Choir Chapel of the side chapels that is quite large, holding up to 100 guests.

Which Pope had a child? ›

Pope Alexander VI

Who is the king of the Vatican? ›

The Pope is the sovereign of the state.

Does the Vatican have an army? ›

The Swiss Guard of the Vatican is the only Swiss Guard that is still active today. The unit was founded by Pope Julius II in 1506. Many guards died protecting a later pope during the looting of Rome of 1527 (commemorating the anniversary of this 'martyrdom' has since become a tradition).

Where is Holy See? ›

Summary. The Holy See is the diplomatic representative of the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope with its headquarters in Vatican City.

Why did the Vatican start? ›

As such, the Holy See's authority extends over Catholics throughout the world. Since 1929 it has resided in Vatican City, which was established as an independent state to enable the pope to exercise his universal authority.

What religion was the Vatican? ›

The Vatican is the smallest independent state in the world and residence of the spiritual leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.

Why is it called pope? ›

Etymology. The word pope is derived ultimately from the Greek πάππας (páppas) originally an affectionate term meaning "father", later referring to a bishop or patriarch.

What makes Vatican City a country? ›

In 1929 Vatican City's independent sovereignty was recognized by the Fascist Italian government in the Lateran Treaty. Sovereignty is exercised by the pope upon his election as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. He has absolute executive, legislative, and judicial powers within the city.

Is there a country smaller than Vatican City? ›

The three smallest countries in the world are Vatican City, an enclave within Rome, Italy. Monaco, a principality at the Mediterranean coast and an enclave within Southern France, and Nauru, an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.

Why is the Vatican City called a city if it's a country? ›

The Vatican City is a microstate located within but independent from the City of Rome in Italy. While Vatican City is tiny, it is treated as a sovereign nation in many ways. The Vatican City as we know it today arose after the signing of the Lateran Treaty in 1929.

How small is Vatican City compared to Russia? ›

Vatican City is 0.17 square miles. Russia is 6592800 square miles. Russia is bigger by 38781176 times.

How does the Vatican make money? ›

The Holy See is the governing body of the nation and generates money through donations; it then invests a portion of that money in stocks, bonds, and real estate. Vatican City generates revenue through museum admissions and the sale of coins, stamps, and publications.

What happens if you are born in Vatican City? ›

As there are no hospitals in the Vatican State, virtually no one is born in there. Instead, Vatican citizenship is provided on a 'jus officii' basis. This means someone is made a citizen of the Vatican when they are appointed to work in the Holy See. Their citizenship ends when their appointment ends.

What is the world smallest country? ›

The smallest country in the world is Vatican City, with a landmass of just 0.49 square kilometers (0.19 square miles). Vatican City is an independent state surrounded by Rome. Vatican City is not the only small country located inside Italy.

What is the Vatican country called? ›

The Italian name of the city is Città del Vaticano or, more formally, Stato della Città del Vaticano, meaning 'Vatican City State'. Its Latin name is Status Civitatis Vaticanae; this is used in official documents by the Holy See, the Church and the Pope.

Does the Vatican pay taxes? ›

The mandate of Vatican Media is to facilitate the universal expansion of Catholicism. One key government function missing from the Vatican is taxation. The city has no taxes, no restrictions on imports or exports and there are no customs fees. Employees do not pay income tax and there is no duty tax on imports.

Is the Vatican a rich city? ›

Although the Holy See's Nominal GDP is not published, the per capita GDP of the Vatican is estimated to be $21,198, making Vatican City the 18th wealthiest nation in the world per capita.

Is Vatican City the biggest city in the world? ›

By area, Vatican City is the smallest city in the world. It measures merely 0.17 square miles and is unique in that it is both a city and a country, a modern-day city-state. Vatican City is home to the Pope, and to the Holy See, which is the government of the Roman Catholic Church.

Is the Vatican smaller than a football field? ›

Framed by a 2-mile border with Italy, The Vatican City is an independent city-state that covers just over 100 acres, making it the same size as 75 football fields!

Is Vatican City bigger than Central Park? ›

Found in the midst of Manhattan island, Central Park covers around 3.5 square miles and stretches across 843 acres of land. Such dimensions make the park larger than Vatican city and almost six times larger than Monaco.

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