Not many religions actually own a country, but Catholicism isn't just any religion. The Vatican is probably per square foot the richest country in the world, making up for its total lack of natural resources with an astonishing collection of priceless art treasures.
Headed up by His Holiness, the tiny enclave in the heart of Rome is the administrative and spiritual capital of Roman Catholicism, and the world's smallest independent state. During the working week, the population increases fivefold as residents of Rome cross the 'border' to do the Lord's work.
Despite its importance to the devout - there are an estimated one billion Catholics worldwide - it's not all bells and smells at the Pope's house. Scandal and intrigue have accompanied the office of the papacy for almost two millennia, and plenty of that scandal occurred within the Vatican buildings. But even without a dubious relationship with the Nazis, corruption and rumours of Mafia murders, the Vatican would remain a spectacular destination for history buffs, religious types and art lovers alike.
Facts for the traveller
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Off the beaten track