browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Vatican City, the smallest country in the world and all within Rome

Posted by on March 24, 2019

One of the weirdest things when it comes to traveling to foreign countries has to be visiting the super micro-state nation of Vatican City which is actually within the city limits of Rome itself. Yes, the Vatican is within the city of Rome! And yes, the Vatican is considered to be its own country. It’s even smaller than the small countries of Luxembourg, Andorra, and Monaco that I’ve visited! Even the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is bigger and it’s not that big either!

In the past, the Vatican was not just the Vatican but rather it was the epicenter of the Papal States, a country on its own which basically consisted of a mix of northern and central Italy. These territories were actually ruled and given administration from the Pope and his officials. However, due to the constant wars that Europe was enduring, the Papal States became smaller and smaller until Italy (which became a Kingdom at the time of the Italian reunification) started to annex the Pope’s lands due to the extreme fervor of the country’s desire to be whole again. In later years, negotiations came to a proper agreement and compensation to where the Pope and the Holy See would be established as an independent, sovereign nation, apart from Italy even though it would confined within the city limits of Rome. There’s a lot of history within the Vatican due to all the things that have gone on over the years starting from the 1st century AD when Christianity was finally established within the Roman Empire by setting up in Rome, the capital, to today after all the wars and developments that happened to the Papal States, most especially the Vatican. So again, the Roman Empire helped spread Christianity throughout Europe and eventually to the rest of the world. The legacy is obvious by seeing some of the churches, cathedrals, and memorials out there such as the Cologne Cathedral, Christ the Redeemer, Seville Cathedral, Sagrada Familia, Hill of Crosses, and many more sites out in there, particularly in Latin America.

skip the line Vatican City entrance walls Rome

That right there is the line just to get through Vatican City security. So once you walk in, there’s another line and then another line…. best to get a tour guide with skip-the-line privileges.

lawn cesped vatican papal country religious religion symbol

Once you go through the maze of it all, finally, you can see some daylight and green grass for once.

Just note that even getting into the Vatican is quite a long process due to all the long lines and protocol. You have to understand that visiting the Vatican is not just a stroll in the park. Instead, you are visiting another country. It almost feels like going through airport security as you look up at the tall walls, metal detectors, security guards, etc. So, don’t forget that despite the Vatican being really small and its borders within the city limits of Rome – it’s technically another country. Yes, even though it’s that tiny compared to the most countries out there in the world.

vatican city museo museum vault of treasures tesoros

This is the Vatican Museum building filled with works of art and tons of other treasures that fill the Vatican’s vaults. Of course, like any other museum, the curators change the items on display.

hallway passage ways with art obra

Be sure to walk and look around because even the hallways are decorated with art.

white statue marble old very antique expensive

Even a statue will be standing out by itself. Unfortunately (or fortunately to prevent stupid tourists from possibly damaging it), you can’t go up and inspect the works of art up-close to see when it was made. Hundreds of years of ago???

power man weighlifter bodybuilder statue

Some statues were well carved and obviously made for the Pope/Vatican.

pricey statues of art old white religious artwork

And the further you go into the Vatican, it seems like the works of art get more exquisite and look heavier and more expensive.

Be sure to walk around as some of the halls are just well-made and well-decorated. It almost reminds me of Versailles Palace where the hallways are decorated completely from top to bottom.

painted ceiling vatican power christian faith center epicenter

Even the ceiling is painted/decorated!

paintings on the ceiling painters sculptors artists for the Papal Regency

Who painted these on the ceiling? Just note that the Vatican also houses the Sistine Chapel which was where Michelangelo painted the famous The Last Judgment on the ceiling. DO NOT TAKE pictures as the Swiss Guards are watching.

Inside Vatican church

A different angle.

details chisled worked on hand made

The grandeur of Vatican Church really shows – even the smallest details were well-crafted and thought of.

Inside Vatican church

A different angle.

marble statue religion power of christianity pope holy see

Another statue with a marble background. You have to understand that the Vatican had a lot of power and money that it used its funds to commission many artists, sculptors, painters, craftsmen, etc. so as to portray that this religion has blessed them with such wealth. It wasn’t a bad idea particularly when having to meet other monarchs to get them in line with the church’s desires.

And in this small, pint-sized country, it’s jam-packed with a lot to see because of the high status that it holds upon Christianity, most specifically with Catholics as it is the holy seat of power due to the power of the church and the Pope. Also, many of the Papal’s treasures obtained over a long period of time are on display as the Vatican understands the necessity to be open to the tourist in advertising its power, reputation, force, money, riches, etc. That’s how it retains its followers and might even gain followers as well. But to me, I think opening up this tiny country is a way to generate some easy income thanks to its embrace of tourism. I mean, why have those great treasures and works of art just sit in some warehouse collecting dust when they can instead be showcased to the open public and earn some coin that way?

Piazza San Pietro

This is Saint Peter’s Square which is a completely open plaza. This is where most people congregate in order to see the Pope give his blessings.

St. Peter's Basilica seats concert mass grand people

A more up-close picture of St. Peter’s Basilica where the Pope would make his appearances.

obelisk at st peter's square vatican Basilica holy see tourism

I don’t know why people are so anti-social with their selfie sticks but can’t you ask another person to take your picture? That’s what I did!

Tip: Don’t mess with the Swiss Guards. They’re the ones wearing the tri-color (red, blue, yellow) uniforms that look goofy and out of place. They are real soldiers who act as the Pope’s bodyguard who can and will harm you if they are threatened in any way. It’s the same thing with the Queens Guard in the UK – they will beat you and then have the police arrest and haul you away to jail. The uniforms are not just for show unless of course, they are wearing modernized and/or upgraded clothing. I’ve heard that even some of the Swiss Guards will go undercover so don’t do anything funky there in the Vatican. Another good idea is NOT to take photographs of these guys because they just confiscate your camera!

Tip: Pay for a tour guide to take you to the Vatican. Tour guides generally have special passes that allow you to avoid the huge, long crowds waiting to buy a ticket and then wait some more just to get into the Vatican. To me, it’s far worth it to pay a bit extra in order to avoid waiting and do some more waiting.