The Vatican City Facts
Interesting Facts Vatican City for your visit with the KIDS
Vatican City is the smallest country in the world – just .17 square miles. It is completely surrounded by the country of Italy. When you visit Rome and Vatican City you can add 2 countries to your list of ‘places I’ve visited’.
Facts about the Vatican City – Smallest Country in the World – Size
This country is the smallest country in the entire world if you are talking about the actual footprint size. Vatican City is .17 square miles.
The Vatican City facts are surprising because while tiny, the smallest country in the world has a lot of things going on!
The Vatican City Facts – Smallest Country in the World – Population
Vatican City is the smallest country by measurement but also by population. About 451 people live in Vatican City which is a LOT less people than the next smallest country that has almost 10,000. I think it is safe to say Vatican City is not in any danger of losing this label “Smallest Country Population” in the world.
Tiny Vatican City still has room for a helipad, train stop, department store, post office and the world’s busiest pharmacy with 45 pharmacists on staff.
Facts about the Vatican City – World’s Busiest Pharmacy
My personal favorite of the Vatican City facts here is that the country’s pharmacy is the world’s busiest pharmacy. That was a real surprise to me. Why so busy? What was going on in this tiny country that requires a staff of 45 pharmacists? Think about that….your corner Walgreens usually has 2 – 3 pharmacists and you can tell by the bags in the little bins behind the counter and by the long line you always encounter there when you visit that they take care of a lot of medication. Imagine 45 pharmacists!!
This pharmacy was founded in 1874 by a monk and they see 2000 customers a day. Considering the population of Vatican City is only about 840. In order to use the Vatican City pharmacy you must be eligible. In order to be eligible to use the pharmacy you need to have a temporary pass from the special registry office, an ID and a prescription from a medical doctor. In addition to those who hold a temporary pass, 10,000 people hold a permanent pass to use the pharmacy. In addition to medication, the pharmacy has items like beauty care products and perfume.
Why are people so interested in using this pharmacy when Italy has so many? Money. If you are a member, temporary or permanent, the prices are between 12% and 25% lower than you can get them at an Italian pharmacy.
The most prescribed drug at this pharmacy, the busiest in the world, is valium while the most purchased over the counter item is a hemorrhoids.
Facts about Vatican City – Not just a church
Vatican City is small, but mighty and manages to squeeze a lot of really cool things into that area!
Vatican City includes:
*Several gardens : English, kitchen, American, and a greenhouse
*A guest house!! I wonder who gets to stay there? Wouldn’t that be the invitation of a lifetime!
*Issues passports to clergy and members of the Swiss Guard
*museums – If you spend just one minute admiring each painting in the museums, it would take you more than 4 years to see them all!
Vatican City Guards – The Swiss Guard Vatican
It is also home to the pope’s body guards – The Swiss Guard. They guard the pope, the church and museum and also play on Vatican’s City’s soccer team. Their colorful unforms were designed by the famous painter, Raphael – not Michelangelo which is a popular legend.
The Swiss Guard Vatican Requirements – Applicants must be:
*Must be at least 5′ 8 1/2″ tall
*Must be between 19 – 30 years old
*Must be single
*Must have either a high school diploma or a professional diploma
*Must have already served in the Swiss army
*Service must be at least 2 years long
*Be a moral and upstanding person
*Works 335 days a year – only 30 days off a YEAR
*low pay – about 1500 euros a year
*must swear on the Swiss flag that you are willing to lay down your life to protect the pope
*duties are tough as guards often stand alone for up to 8 hours at a time
Vatican City Art Facts – Michelangelo’s La Pieta
The Pieta, is a famous sculpture of Mary and Jesus inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo over heard people talking about this artwork and saying another artist sculpted it. He was very angry and that night carved his name into Mary’s sash. It is the only piece he ever signed.
Michelangelo loved to sculpt but he didn’t really love to paint. So, he wasn’t thrilled when the pope asked him to paint the ceiling, and later the wall, of the Sistine Chapel. But in those days no one said, “No, thank you.” to the pope so Michelangelo got busy painting.
Michelangelo thought the human body was beautiful since it was made by God and he liked to paint people naked. Many people thought it was not appropriate to have naked paintings in the church and asked him to paint clothes. Michelangelo said, “NO way!!” but finally painted a snake to cover up his loudest critic. You can see this person in the very bottom left hand corner of The Last Judgement on the wall of the Sistine Chapel.
The Baldacchino is this bronze canopy where the pope sits during mass. It is the largest piece of bronze in the world. Pope Urban VIII asked his favorite artist, Bernini, to create it. Interestingly, there are symbols of Pope Urban VIII’s family all over it.
Read up about what you’ll see in Vatican City and the surrounding city of Rome. Kids love learning about what they’ll see on vacation. Giving a child an idea of what they’ll see helps them feel comfortable and gives them a place in their mind to ‘hang’ the new information they’ll learn when they see it in person!
CLICK HERE for book lists on things you’ll see in Vatican City, Rome and Italy.
Have you noticed that teachers always end a lesson with an activity? After you teach kids or read the kids something for learning, there is always an activity given afterwards. Sometimes the activity might be a worksheet. The kids might be asked to write something, or fill in some blanks or even draw a picture. Why is that? The reason that an activity of some sort follows a lesson is that the activity is what helps the information to ‘stick’ in your mind.
So, as a teacher, and a traveling mom who wanted the kids to actually remember the trips we take, I have written travel books for the kids! These books give the kids information about the vacation destination and gives them those all important activities so that information will stick. Do you know people who look at their vacation photos and can’t remember which church they are visiting in them? Don’t be like that! Have your kids learn, remember, and find their place in the world. You are raising global citizens.
Vatican City is a fascinating place for adults and kids alike!
Learn more in the Rome book – also by The Educational Tourist!
The Vatican City Facts – ONE thing this country doesn’t do that ALL OTHER countries do
So, while the Vatican City IS a country it doesn’t tax its citizens. Would that be awesome or what. ZERO taxes. How does it make money? Vatican City makes plenty of money off of entrance fees, souvenir sales and even stamps.
Even more money comes in the form of “Peter’s Pence” a form of donations straight to the Vatican rather than to their individual churches and then to the Vatican. This collection is taken up each summer on the Sunday closest to the Solemnity of the Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29.
Vatican City Fun Facts – Taxes
Not only do citizens of Vatican City NOT pay taxes, but Italian citizens are allowed to pay 8% of their yearly Italian taxes to Vatican City instead of the country of Italy.
Why would Italian citizens want to pay part of their taxes to Vatican City instead of their own country? I don’t know. Is it because they are tithing to support the church? The majority of Italian citizens are Catholic. Or, is it because they don’t trust the Italian government? What do you think?
Facts About Vatican City – Light Pollution caused them to buy property in the US
When the many lights of Rome interfered with getting a good look at the sky from the Vatican Observatory, the pope bought a new observatory spot in Tuscon, Arizona.
The Vatican City Interesting Facts – Palaces with lots of rooms
Vatican City has palaces with more than 1000 rooms. These buildings connect and hold offices and meeting rooms, chapels, museums, and residence for the current pope.
Facts about the Vatican City – Concerned about the Carbon Footprint
Even though it is the world’s smallest country, it is making a big statement about carbon footprints. In 2007, Vatican city became the very first carbon neutral country. They offset their carbon footprint with a created forest in Hungary.
Facts Vatican City – Secret Archives
The Vatican Secret Archives sound like something you’d hear about in a spy movie (Angels & Demons with Tom Hanks) or mystery novel and that is because writers love to use a secret spot like this!! Oh, the things they can dream up. In truth, though, in this case the word ‘secret’ really means ‘private’. This library is full of things that are private to the current pope.
The Vactican Secret Archives have more than 50 miles of storage and hold valuable documents from as far back as the 8th century.
Hidden away in the Vatican Secret Archives are things like:
*Notes on the Galileo’s trial when he was tried for heresy because of his idea that the sun was the center of the universe, not the Earth as the church believed
*transcripts from the trial of the Knights Templar
*Letters from Abraham Lincoln about the Civil War
*Letters from England’s King Henry VIII asking for an annulment of his marriage (his request was denied by the pope so King Henry VIII just killed his wife instead which freed him up to remarry)
*Letter from Michelangelo regarding missing payment for his work in the Sistine Chapel
Traveling in Italy is a wonderful experience. When in Rome, do as the Romans and enjoy the fantastic food!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist