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    Slovakia: Tatra Mountains. Go Now!

    The Tatra Mountains (pictured) form the backdrop of this rural country, whose culture is rooted in this beautiful landscape. Go Now!

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    Bulgaria: An old Turkish bridge. Go Now!

    The isolated mountains of Bulgaria hide cultural gems around every corner, including this old Turkish bridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Explore Bulgaria!

  • Italy!

    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

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    Portugal: Palace of Pena. Go Now!

    Although next to the seas and made famous by trade, Portugal boasts dynamic landscapes and architecture, including the Palace of Pena (pictured) near the town of Sintra. Go to Portugal!

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Vatican CityThe origin of the name "Vatican" dates back to pre-Christian times when the present location was called Mt. Vatican, or "Mons Vaticanus" in Latin.

Città del Vaticano


Vatican City is the world's smallest country; it's also one of the few theocracies in the world. This sovereign state is headed by the pope, who has inherited the role by election from St. Peter, one of Jesus's Apostles and one of the Catholic Church's founders as a great evangelist. The pope and the Catholic Church (with the Holy See) oversee all churches that fall under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, making Vatican City a nation whose focus and mission is to preach the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The structure and mission of the pope, the Catholic Church, and the Holy See make Vatican City a country with no equal. For example, the citizenship consists of individual Catholics from various parts of the world no matter their ethnicity or native language; vastly different from the citizenship requirements of most countries, which are based on birth or immigration. Vatican City is also an absolute monarchy headed by the pope, one of the few absolute monarchies left in the world.

This diversity in citizenship also makes the country one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. Due to this, the culture is based on religion and Catholic tradition, not on food, language, ethnicity, or any other common identifying feature.

Despite the mission and focus of the church, only a fraction of the Vatican City's visitors are pilgrims seeking out the church. Most visitors come to experience the incredible collection of art, architecture, and history which the church has accumulated over the years. Throughout history the Catholic Church has gone through numerous stages, some of which contributed to the wealth of the church, including times when the church ruled over the Papal States.

The art collection in Vatican City today is meant to offer more than just an impressive visit to a museum, it is meant to display the talents and abilities that God gave people. The museums are not simply a collection of art; they are a display of the great powers held by people that are only possible through God. Hence, even the museums are tied to God and religion in Vatican City, but such is life in this tiny country.

Vatican City is like no other destination for many reasons and visitors walk away with so many impressions, forever talking about the impressive paintings in the museums, awed by Michelangelo's famed frescos on the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, the smells of the incredible gardens when in bloom, the feast for the eyes in the numerous sculptures, St. Peter's Basilica, arguably the pinnacle of the High Renaissance, and even spiritual experiences that cannot be expressed in mere words.

Information for Vatican City was last updated: February, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks