Vatican City: What Makes It Special?

If you need to explain Vatican City for kids, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s Go Geography is all about showing kids the world, and Vatican City is a fascinating place. So let’s go!

First, Vatican City is the smallest country in the world in both population and size.  And since kids love “biggest” and “smallest” kinds of things, this is a great place to start.

How do you explain Vatican City for kids?  It starts with being the smallest country in the world, and it only gets better!  Let’s Go Geography takes you there. Share with homeschool moms! #letsgogeography #homeschoolgeographychildren #homeschoolgeography #geographyforkids #makinggeographyfun

Next, Vatican City is a kind of theocracy, which means it leaders are connected to the church.  It is ruled by the Pope, who is the head of the Roman Catholic Church.  Vatican City is surrounded by the city of Rome in Italy.

Vatican City is also unique because it is a city-state. That means it is just one single city, but that one city is also the entire country. We call that a city-state.

A large wall surrounds most of the city-state.  When you first walk up to an entrance in the wall, it feels like you are walking on the outside of a huge medieval castle. The wall was built many, many years ago, and helps with security today.  But the wall does not surround the entire city.

The Wall of Vatican City

Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the city each year.  So obviously, something other than being the smallest country makes it super special.

First, the Pope lives there in the Apostolic Palace.   And it is a very important place for the Roman Catholic church and many of their important events.

But even if you’re not Catholic, there’s much more.  You would still want to see St. Peter’s Basilica.  It is a huge, beautiful church, lavishly decorated with Renaissance artwork and sculptures.  The picture at the top of this post shows the view from the roof of the Basilica, looking down into St. Peter’s Square…which is the big round area where they hold many important functions. 

Which begs the question of why the circle is called a square.  And no one really talks about that, so you are free to have your own opinion!

Also, many popes and other important people have been buried at the Basilica, possibly even St. Peter himself.

And let’s not forget the museums.  The Vatican holds some of the most treasured pieces of art in the world. 

Did you ever learn about Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel while laying on his back on a scaffold?  Well, the Sistine Chapel is in the Vatican.  If you visit the Vatican museums, you can walk into the Chapel and see the famous ceiling.

An exhibit in the Vatican Museum

But when you are there, the Chapel ceiling is just one beautiful ceiling out of lots of jaw-dropping beauty that seems to be everywhere.  The hallways, the ceilings, the walls, the paintings, the sculptures.  It just has so much.

As you leave, you may walk down the wide avenue that connects St. Peter’s Square with Rome. The road, the basilica, the square, and the museum all seem larger than life. But that’s the point.

As a city that represents faith and worship, Vatican City was built to point its visitors to God. To a being that is larger than humanity. To the God that is way beyond anyone’s expectations. And Vatican City does that quite well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post about Vatican City for kids. Let’s Go Geography shows kids most of the countries of the world through video, fun activities, crafts & more. Every year introduces kids to 30-32 different countries around the globe every year. Check it out here!

About the Author

Carol Henderson is the author of the Let's Go Geography curriculum. She previously homeschooled all 5 of her now-grown kids, and currently teaches several history and geography classes at a large homeschool co-op. After creating and then using her own geography curriculum for several years, she has published it here to share with you!

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