Sunday, July 16, 2023

Vatican City

 Even though it is the smallest country in the world, Vatican City holds major religious and cultural significance.  Despite having a history spanning many hundreds of years, the Vatican State was not an independent country until 1929 when the signing of the Lateran Treaty brought some measure of peace between the relatively new Italian government (mid-19th century) and the Papacy, since both wanted Rome to be their capital but wanted to be independent from the other.  Not only is it the residence of the Pope, but it also houses hundreds of incalculably valuable works of art.  Some put the valuation of Vatican City (and Catholic Church) assets at $73 billion minimum.

Video List

Normally we like to go to Geography Now! to start off our learning, but since they are going alphabetically, they have not yet reached Vatican City, so we turned to another of our favorite channels: CGP Grey.  We had to get a basic membership to watch one or both of these videos, but it was well worth it as the videos are very informative.

Why did we skip so far ahead in our country list?  It is because we had an opportunity to visit the Vatican while we were in Italy!

We met early in the morning at St. Peter's Square for our tour.

members of the Swiss Guard at the south archway on the side of the Basilica

Fun Fact: all of the artwork in St. Peter's are actually mosaics made of small glass tiles.  There is only one true painting in the Basilica (above Michaelangelo's Pietá).  This is why you can take photographs inside the Basilica: the flash will not harm the mosaics.

a view of Vatican City from the top of the dome on St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Baldacchino - sculpted by Bernini, it stands over the High Altar, which was built over St. Peter's tomb

one of the entrances to the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums contain incredible works of art dating from as far back as Ancient Egypt ...

... and Ancient Greece all the way up to modern artists like Matisse.

The symbol of the Papacy (and thus Vatican City) is the Papal crown with two crossed keys underneath, visible here both above the white stone shield and above the red dragon crest (the coat of arms of Pope Gregory XIII).

And while Vatican City may not have a particular cuisine, we did eat some sandwiches and pizza from a food stand in Vatican City before heading over to the Vatican Museums!

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