7 Interesting Vatican Facts You Didn’t Know

You’re probably familiar with the pope and the importance of his position in the world. However, there are some things you probably had no idea about when it comes to Vatican City.

Learn these Vatican facts that you’ve never heard of. You’ll be surprised by the layers of history that are held within the walls of this small sovereign state.

1. Vatican City Has No Taxes

That’s right! Vatican City is the smallest independent country in the world and is encircled by a two-mile border with Italy. It covers just over 100 acres. It is governed by an absolute monarchy with the pope at its head.

The Vatican’s government generates its revenue from museum admission fees, stamp and souvenir sales, and other contributions. Therefore it has no taxes.

2. The Swiss Guard Protects the Pope

Since 1506, the Swiss Guard has been protecting the pope. It all started with Pope Julius II who hired one of the Swiss mercenary forces for his personal protection. To this day, the Swiss Guard acts like the Pope’s protection.

Although they appear to be only for ceremonial purposes due to their armor and colorful Renaissance-inspired uniforms. They are in fact well trained and highly skilled marksmen.

3. The Pope Has A Secret Passage & You Can Tour It!

Several times throughout history, popes have had to escape from the Vatican using a secret passageway called the Passetto di Borgo, which was built in 1277. It is about a half-mile-long elevated covered passageway that links the Vatican to the Castel Sant’Angelo on the banks of the Tiber River.

The most notable escaped happened in 1527 when Pope Clement VII got out just in time when forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V attacked the city. While 147 others such as priests, nuns, and many members of the Swiss Guard were murdered. Clement was able to reach Castel Sant’Angelo.

The Pasetto was opened in 2000 for visitors to tour each summer after being closed to the public for many years. It was renovated in honor of the Pope’s Jubilee year.

Check out these Vatican city tours to explore for yourself!

4. Most Vatican City Citizens Live Abroad

There are only about 600 citizens of Vatican City. This includes the 71 cardinals, 109 members of the Swiss Guard, 51 members of the clergy, and one nun within the Vatican walls.

The reason most of the citizens living abroad is because they make up the 307 members of the clergy who hold diplomatic positions around the world.

5. Most Wine Consumption in the World

Believe it or not, the Vatican City has the highest consumption of wine per capita than anywhere else. The average resident consumes about 54.26 liters of wine a year.

It is believed that the reason for such a high level is due to the numbers communions and the amount being distributed at such events.

6. Home to the World’s Shortest Railway

Vatican City is known for having the smallest rail network in the world. With just two 300-meter tracks and one station, the Citta del Vaticano, there are no regular passenger trains scheduled.

The two freight sidings’ primarily are used for importing goods as well as symbolic reasons.

7. Benito Mussolini Made Vatican City Its own Sovereign State

The Italian Government fought with the Catholic Church for many years until the signing of the Lateran Pacts in 1929. During this time popes refused to leave the Vatican for 60 years. They would not recognize the authority of the Kingdom of Italy.

The political strife ended when Benito Mussolini signed into law the existence of the Vatican as its own sovereign state. These also approved compensation to the church of $92 million for the Papal States.

Get Your Vatican Facts Straight

What better way to learn more Vatican facts than by visiting the country for yourself? Seeing these historic locations in-person is completely different than just reading about them.

We hope these interesting facts will inspire you to take your own journey!

Do you enjoy learning about art, history, and culture? Check out our blog to learn more about our fascinating world.