20 Facts About the Vatican cont.

When it comes to paying a visit to the Vatican, one of the most amazing attractions is the number of items found in the local museums, while the colorful history and connections of the country is equally as impressive. In this article, you will learn information regarding the crime rate, the Swiss Guards, and a connection to Christopher Columbus.

13.    Museums
Stretching more than nine miles long (14.5 kilometers), the Vatican museums are so extensive, it is said that if you spent one minute gazing at each painting, it would take you four years to see the entire collection.

14.    Crime-Ridden?
It’s hard to believe that the highest crime rate in the world is found in the Vatican City. For example, in 2006, 492 people lived in the area with the country boasting 341 civil and 486 criminal cases. Interestingly, 90% of the crimes go unpunished because the majority of criminals are people who have come to visit.

15.    Pretty Popular
With about 5 million people choosing the Vatican City as a destination to visit, it holds the title as most visited place per capita in the world.

16.    When Residents Get Unruly”¦
When adding up the members of the Swiss Guard and the Gendarmerie Corps, the city has the most police per capita, rounding out to about two officers for every two residents. Interestingly, the country is without a jail so when incarceration is a must, the Italian government is in charge of handling this need, which the Vatican foots the bill for.

17.    A Watergate Connection
You’d probably be surprised to know that an Italian real estate company called Societa Generale Immobiliare played an important role in the construction of the Watergate Hotel and Apartment complex. At the time, the Vatican possessed 20% of SGI’s stock, which made them the largest single shareholder of the project.

18.    The Swiss Guards
To protect the Pope, the Pontifical Swiss Guard (Vatican guards) was originally employed as personal bodyguards , an idea of Pope Julius II, whom had the Swiss Guards established in 1506. Today, they also serve as the military force of the Vatican. In order to become a Swiss guard, hopefuls must measure at least 5 foot 8 ½ inches tall and be between the ages of 19 and 30. Basic training in the Swiss military was a must. Only Catholic, Swiss men are allowed to become a guard.

19.    The Lowdown on the Pope
Unlike some cultures that appoint their leaders due to royal lineage, the Pope is an elected non-hereditary monarch, who exercises total judicial, executive and legislative control over the Vatican State. To date, he serves as the only absolute monarch in Europe. When a newly elected Pope takes his place on the balcony where he will deliver the first blessing (“Urbi et Orbi”) to the city and the world, he is standing on what is known as “Loggia of the Benediction.” Millions of people across the globe will listen to his first blessing.

20.    Christopher Columbus Connection
There is a legend that states Christopher Columbus was the son of Pope Innocence VIII, who is known for fathering eight children and making sure that Columbus received funding so that he could take his trip to discover new worlds.