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tiistai 27. kesäkuuta 2017

My Tibet Trip 2017 with Budget Tibet Tour

Compilation video of my trip 

My 8-day tour itinerary 

Day 1. Lhasa

15th June, 2017

So I had been in Chengdu for five days, before I flew to Lhasa. In the morning I took the taxi to Chengdu airport. I was fortunately early there, because it was a bit confusing to get the information where to go, while it was hard to find people, who could advice me in English. I survived to the plane and after a flight of a couple of hours we arrived to Lhasa. One of the most amazing views from the plane were the Himalayan mountain peaks, that arose above the clouds. I wondered if the mountain climbers on Mount Everest frequently see planes flying around when they climb the peak. 

At Lhasa airport me and some other tourists were picked up to the bus and we drove to Lhasa. I enjoyed the views during the ride to our hotel in Lhasa. I could also feel the altitude of 3600 meters a bit. The scenery reminded me slightly of southern Peru with its arid and dry nature with mountains surrounding in all the directions. 

The first day I just walked a bit with some new friends that I met during the bus ride. They were also tourists, who had come to a tour in Tibet. Fortunately two of the people were originally from China, so they spoke Mandarin which was useful when we went to eat. For lunch we had some Tibetan food and for dinner we ate in a place where you pick the barbecue sticks with different meats and vegetables, which were then fried and brought to our table. The food was very tasty and enough spicy for my taste.

Chengdu airport

Day 2. Lhasa

16th June, 2017

After resting and taking easily the first day, we were ready to get to know the Tibetan culture. We visited Sera and Drepung Buddhist monasteries. One of the really cool things was to see a bunch of Buddhist monks debating. They clapped their hands and said something. I hadn’t seen that kind of debate before and I would have wanted to know what they were debating and what was the result of their debate. 

One other surprising thing was to see so much money in the monasteries. People prayed there and left money with probably the aim to bless them and give good luck. In one room I saw a Buddhist monk with the biggest pile of money I had seen in one place. He was counting the money and it looked like it would take the whole day to count that much money. Our guide told that the money goes to renovate and maintain the monasteries. I also wondered how the monks could pray when all the tourists walk around and watch them. 

In the evening we went to a welcome dinner and saw different dances performed by Tibetan people. I enjoyed seeing their different outfits, which were very beautiful and colorful. The performers didn’t really seem that enthusiastic about their performance, some even seemed a bit bored. Still the food was good and I enjoyed the evening with my new friends, who were in my travel group. 

Monks debating at Sera monastery

Day 3. Lhasa 

17th June, 2017

On the third day we visited the monasteries of Potala and Jokhang. Potala Palace is the icon of Lhasa, which everyone associates with Tibet and Lhasa. It’s like Eiffel Tower and Paris or the Statue of Liberty and New York. Like you could expect, there were a lot of other people willing to go to the palace. After being in the queue and waiting for a long time we got inside the palace. It’s really huge and not all the rooms are available for the public. Because of the massive crowds visiting the palace, there’s a restriction that one group can be around one hour inside the palace. For me the time was sufficient as we walked around the palace and our tour guide talked about the history of Potala Palace, which included stories about the Dalai Lamas, Penchin Lamas, past, present and future buddhas and generally a lot about Buddhism. 

After a while of rest and lunch, we headed towards the Jokhang monastery through the Barkor street. There were a lot of small shops along the way, but I decided to only photograph the places I saw. It was a warm day and the sun was quite high in the sky very late, which is why I also felt a bit exhausted of the whole day when we arrived at Jokhang monastery. 

I lacked concentration and felt like the things that I saw in the monastery very almost the same that I had seen in all the previous ones. Also the decoration and statues started to look quite the same, although they were very beautiful and impressive in all the monasteries. Like some buddha statues were thirty meters tall and they were made hundreds of years ago. 

Potala Palace

Day 4. Lhasa-Shigatse 

18th June, 2017

We woke up early and started to drive towards Shigatse. We drove along a route, which included a lot of scenic spots to take pictures. We stopped at the famous Yamdrok Lake. Unfortunately the weather was a bit cloudy, so the crystal clear water of the lake couldn’t be seen as clearly. When we ascended from the top down to the shore of the lake, we saw local people who sold souvenirs to tourists and offered the chance to take a picture with a yak for money. I don't know was it a good think or not according to the animal activists, but I finally decided to take a picture. 

The other really impressive place was the glacier of Mount Nyenchen Khangsar. The altitude was above 5000 meters so I really felt dizzy there, but the view was amazing. Someone filmed with a drone there, but I couldn't hear the drone flying for more than a couple of minutes. I think the police asked the drone pilot to take the drone down, since it's forbidden almost everywhere in Tibet to fly drones. 

I was quite tired of driving towards Shigatse and slept for a while in the car, once when I woke up I saw really amazing grasslands with a lot of yaks. This sight was something I had seen on the internet, while googling pictures from Tibet. Unfortunately we didn't stop close to these landscapes to take pictures. It was quite late in the evening when we arrived at Shigatse. The hotel was there as well as in Lhasa better than I expected, because I had read that they were three star hotels and that the standards in Tibet are not as high as European people are accustomed to. So the hotels were actually really clean, comfortable and they had western toilets and hot water in the shower.

Yamdrok Lake

Day 5. Shigatse-Mount Everest Base Camp (EBC) 

19th June, 2017

In the morning we started driving from Shigatse to EBC. The landscapes were very varying during our way to there. I started feeling the altitude a bit more in my head. The streets zig-zagged up and down along the hills. In the evening we reached the EBC, which was very impressive. I had seen this mountain range already from the plane and again from very far distance as we drove there through some mountain passes. We put our stuff to the tent, or yurt actually, and then took the bus from base camp 1 to base camp 2. Some decided to hike there and back. Me and some other group members took the bus, which was a good idea, because we had more time on a hill at base camp 2 for taking pictures with the peak of Mount Everest in the background.

We were very close to the border of Nepal and that's why there were soldiers around the area. It was quite late and one soldier asked the people leave from base camp 2 back to base camp 1, so we started walking back. We didn't take the bus, because the 4-5km hike back to our tent was much more exciting and it might have been the only time to hike at Mount Everest, if I don't return there some day. We walked slowly back and took pictures during the time of sunset. I felt very dizzy at our tent, but after eating and resting for a while I went outside to take some pictures of the night sky. My brain didn't work normally, so afterwards I noticed how I should have used totally different settings, while taking the pictures of the night sky. 

Me and two of my group members at Mount Everest base camp two (5200m)

Day 6. EBC-Shigatse 

20th June, 2017

I slept really badly in the tent, which was quite crowded. There were 10 people sleeping and I woke up a couple of times during the night. I got a really bad headache and when I woke up I felt really bad. We had ascended from 3800 meters to almost 5200 meters in one day, which I really could feel in my body. We drove back to Shigatse and during the drive I felt worse than in many years. I was close to throw up in the car as we drove the hills up and down. I managed to sleep and started to feel slightly better when we arrived to some lower altitudes.

During the whole day I couldn't eat anything hot, I only ate bread, fruits and drank water and sodas. I felt already much better at Shigatse, where we visited one monastery before returning to our hotel. For the first time I used my 70-200mm zoom lens and I got really amazing portrait pictures of the local Tibetan people. I wish I had used it many times before, but I had left the lens in the bus, because I didn't want to carry all my camera stuff, which I really should have done. 

Buddhist monk at Tashilumo monastery

Day 7. Shigatse-Lhasa 

21th June, 2017

The last day of our trip we drove from Shigatse to Lhasa. This time it was a route, that didn't have that many places to take pictures. I used my zoom lens again to take pictures of Tibetan people along our way. I took the photos through the window, which was a bit tricky, but I actually managed to get quite many pictures that showed the authentic everyday life of some Tibetan people. There was a traffic accident in one part of the road and we had to wait for over an hour. During this time we took pictures and talked to other tourist group members. This was a good time to interview some of the group members in their native languages. I did this for my future vlog, where I reveal the stories of people who I met during my travels. I spoke and asked questions with an Estonian guy in Estonian. He had lived in Hong Kong for 4 years and the past year in Beijing. Then I filmed a Swiss guy working for an insurance company and spoke three out of the four Swiss official languages, German, French and Italian. One French friend also joined the conversation, when we talked in French. I also talked to an Argentinian in Spanish and he was studying also in Beijing like many people in our group. At Lhasa I had no energy to do anything, I only went to eat to a Tibetan restaurant with my two Asian Australian friends. The rest of the evening I just laid on my bed and talked a bit with my friends in Finland through Whatsapp, because Facebook and many other applications and websites don't work in Tibet. 

View from the bus, while driving back to Lhasa

Days 8.-10. Lhasa-Chengdu 

22th-24th June, 2017

On 22th June I boarded the train at Lhasa, which went along the world's highest railway track in the world. The railway track is on some places built on permafrost and it goes until Beijing. I had to change the train at one station to the train going to Chengdu. The train ride lasted about 44 hours from Lhasa to Chengdu. Fortunately I had a hard bed. I mostly laid on the bed, because I was so exhausted of my trip, but I managed to take pictures on the second day. I took pictures for about four hours and the scenery changed unbelievably much in such a small time period. After all I arrived to Chengdu and I had a really amazing 10 day experience. I had been at the world's highest mountain in Tibet and returned to Chengdu by taking the train on the world's highest railway track. 

Train compartments 

Soft bed = most expensive 
Hard bed = cheaper than soft bed 
Seat = the cheapest and most uncomfortable 

The view from the train

Questions and information about my trip 

1. Which tour operator I used ?

Budget Tibet Tour

My 8-day tour itinerary 

Like probably most of you who are going to Tibet know that it's prohibited to travel in Tibet on your own. Every foreigner has to go to Tibet through a Chinese tour agency, who also apply for the Tibet permit. You are not able to go to Tibet without the Tibet permit. 

2. What should I keep in mind in Tibet ?

Keep your passport and Tibet permit somewhere safe all the time. You will need to show these two nearly every day at the hotel or checkpoints, when you're driving anywhere from Lhasa. 

Don't photograph the police officers or soldiers in Tibet. 

Tibetan people are prohibited to pick up foreigners, so just forget hitchhiking in Tibet if you want to keep out of trouble. 

3. How did I manage with the altitude ? 

I arrived to Lhasa from Chengdu, so from sea level to 3600 meters. I had three days to acclimatize and I got used to the altitude during that time. At Lhasa I had no problems with the altitude. From Lhasa we went to Shigatse, which was at 3800 meters, but during that day we passed places over 5000 meters and there I really felt a bit dizzy. From Shigatse we went to Mount Everest Base Camp, which was at 5150 meters, where we slept. At the base camp I felt very dizzy in the morning, I had a really bad headache and overall felt quite weak. Many people at the other group had vomitted, because of the altitude sickness symptoms. I started feeling better the day when we left the base camp and arrived under 4000 meters again. 

4. Which medicine I took with me ?

Diamox (for altitude sickness) = I should have taken it for 4 days twice a day, but I took only the day before arriving to Lhasa and in the morning when I was in Lhasa. The medicine removes fluids from the brain and makes you go to the toilet several times a day, which was very uncomfortable so I stopped using it. 

Diarrhea medicine = I took something to prevent diarrhea and it was very helpful, I used it almost every day. 

Painkillers = mostly for headache 

5. Which clothes I took with me ? 

T-Shirts = I should have taken much more t-shirts, but I thought it will be cold in Tibet. In June when I was there the weather was sunny and above 20 degrees in Lhasa and Shigatse.

Shorts and long pants = I used mostly the shorts, but at Mount Everest and some places on a high elevation I used my long pants.  

Winter jacket = I needed my winter jacket only at Mount Everest base camp. Also some areas close to the base camp it was necessary. 

Sneakers = I brought my winter hiking shoes from Finland, but left them to Chengdu in my apartment. The normal sports sneakers were enough during my stay in Tibet. We didn't walk on snow in any point. Even at the Mount Everest base camp there was no snow in June. There was snow much higher from the two base camps. 

6. Which camera equipment I had with me ? 

1 Camera: Sony 6500
3 lenses: 25mm, 50mm, 70-200mm 
1 charger (very important ! don't forget these in any hotel rooms) 
1 Tripod 
1 GoPro 
A camera bag for the camera and lenses

I shot the scenery pictures with the 25mm lens. If we were near some monasteries with people and buildings I shot them with the 50mm lens. I shot some candid portrait pictures of the local people with the 70-200mm lens. I got the shots in the streets and from the car with a very fast shutter speed. I also took some landscape pictures with the 70-200mm lens, but only from places that were too far for the 25mm and 50mm lenses. 

7. Photography tips in Tibet 

- Like mentioned before, don't take photos of any military or police officers 

- It's not forbidden to take pictures of monks and local people, but some times they don't want to be in the pictures, so it's better to have a zoom lens and take the photos so far away that they don't notice like I did. The pictures will this way be also more authentic and natural without any posing. 

- Bring a tripod to Mount Everest base camp. There were quite many people taking pictures of Mount Everest with a night sky and milky way in the background. My head didn't work well on that altitude so I used really bad settings. I should have used a much higher ISO and longer shutter speed. My pictures ended up to be too dark. My ISO was about 800-1000 and shutter speed 10 seconds.  

- Drones are forbidden at Lhasa, at Mount Everest base camp (military area close to the border of Nepal) and in quite many other places. I didn't take my drone with me, because I didn't have space and I heard that there wouldn't be many possibilities to use it during the tour. 

8. Budget for a 8-day trip in Tibet 

8-day tour: 700-800 euros (includes accommodation, Tibet permit, Mount Everest permit and transportation) 
Food and drinks: about 10-15 euros/day so 70-105e in a week 
Tips for the driver and guide: 200 yuan (100 and 100), which is 26 euros 
Entry tickets to monasteries and other places: 850 yuan = 111 euros 

8-day budget in total: 907-1042 euros

This doesn't include the flight or train tickets to Lhasa and back or the Chinese visa

Click on the topics below to know more about some things that I didn't cover that much in my blog:  

Mount Nyenchen Khangsar glacier 

torstai 25. toukokuuta 2017

Andorra, Cool Facts #184

<= 183. Vatican City                                                                                             185. Afghanistan => 

1. Flag of Andorra

- The Flag of Andorras is unique as it refers to three different states
- Blue represents France
- Yellow represents Vatican City
- Red represents Spain

- Virtus Unita Fortior "United virtue is stronger" is written in the coat-of-arms
- Top left = arms of the Bishop of Urgell
- Top right = arms of the County of Foix
- Bottom left = arms of Catalonia
- Bottom right = arms of the Viscounts of Béarn 

Andorra's coat-of-arms

2. Parliamentary Co-Principality  

- Andorra is very unique, because its both a republic and a principality at the same time 
- The two Co-Princes of Andorra are the President of France and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell
- The President of France is the Prince of Andorra, an elected reigning monarch although the president isn't elected by popular vote of the Andorra people 
- Currently (May, 2017) Joan Enric Vives i Sicilia and Emmanuel Macron are the two Co-Princes of Andorra 
- In 1793 the French revolutionary government ended the protection agreement with Andorra, which made the Andorrans to fear drifting under the influence of Spain 
- In 1806 Napoleon restored the agreement of Lerida in 1278 and since then Andorra's independence has been backed by the Spanish Bishop of Urgell and the President or head of state of France 

Co-Princess of Andorra Sicilia (left) and Macron (right)

3. Catalan Official Language in Andorra 

- Andorra is the only country, where Catalan is the official language
- Spanish, French and Portuguese are recognized languages in Andorra
- English is less commonly spoken, but it's understood to varying degrees in major tourist spots
- Andorra television and radio stations use Catalan

Linguistic usage of Andorra in 2005 according to Obsevatori Social d'Andorra:

Catalan 38,8%
Spanish 35,4%
Portuguese 15%
French 5,4%
Other 5,5%

Catalan speaking areas in grey

4. Revolution of 1881 

- In 1880 the authorities of the Co-Princes banned casinos and betting houses throughout the country
- This started the Revolution of 1881 or Troubles of Andorra
- On December 8, 1880 the revolutionaries assaulted the house of the syndic and established the Provisional Revolutionary Council
 - The leaders of the Provisional Revolutionary Council granted the construction of casinos and spas to foreign companies
- In June 1881 the the loyalists of Canilo and Encamp reconquered the parishes of Ordino and Massana
- After a day of combat the Treaty of the Bridge of Escalis was signed the 10 of June
- The Council was replaced and new elections were made, but the economic situation worsened with a divided society
- The struggles between pro-French, pro-Bishops and nationalists continued

The Revolutionary Council

5. Adventurer Boris Skossyreff 

- In 1933 France occupied Andorra after social unrest, which occurred before elections
- On 12 July 1934, adventurer Boris Skossyreff declared himelf in Urgell as "Boris I, King of Andorra"
- Skossyreff simultaneously declared war on the Bishop of Urgell
- On 20 July 1934, Skossyreff was arrested by Spanish authorities and expelled to Portugal
- Some sources claim that Skossyreff died in a Vichy French prison camp and others claim that he survived and that he became a civilian technician for the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front in World War II
- Boris Skossyreff was a White Russian, who was born in Vilnius in 1896 in the Russian Empire 
- A novel has been written of Skossyreff in 1984 by Catalan author Antoni Morell i Mora, with the title Boris I, Rei d'Andorra

Boris Skossyreff


6640BC A group of humans moved to the Valley of Madriu as a permanent camp
400s After the fall of the Roman Empire Andorra was under Visigoth influence for the next 200 years
839 First document that mentions Andorra as a territory
988 Count of Urgell gave the Andorran valleys to the Diocese of Urgell in exchange for land in Cerdanya
1095 Lord of Caboet and Bishop of Urgell signed under oath a declaration of their co-sovereignty over Andorra
1212 The rulers of the Count of Foix became the inheritors of the County of Urgell through a marriage
1278 Andorra's sovereignty was decided to be shared between the counts of Foix and Urgell
1419 General Council of the Valleys, the second oldest parliament in Europe was established
1607 King Henry IV of France issued an edict, that established the ruler of France and the Bishop of Urgell as Co-Princes of Andorra
1793 During the French Revolution the Co-Principate and protection agreement was ended
1806 Napoleon re-established the Co-Principate and the same year Andorra got its own flag
1866 The aristocratic oligarchy that previously ruled the country was replaced by the reformist group and the same year Andorra got a new flag
1880s Troubles of Andorra 
1910s Andorra declared war on Imperial Germany, but didn't take part in the fighting 
1933 France occupied Andorra following social unrest which occurred before elections
1940s Andorra remained neutral in World War II
1958 Peace treaty with Germany was made, because Andorra was accidentally left outside of the Versailles Peace Treaty, which meant that Andorra remained in an official state of belligerency with Germany until this point 
1970 Women got the right to vote in Andorra
1993 Andorra became a UN and EU member and the country got a new constitution 

Vatican City, Cool Facts #183

<= 182. San Marino                                                                                                   184. Andorra => 

1. Circus of Nero (or Caligula) 

Agrippina's garden 
Under the Roman Empire in the early 1st century Agrippina the Elder drained the marshy area called "Vatican" and laid out her gardens.

Emperor Caligula 
In the year 40 Agrippina's son Emperor Caligula built a circus for charioteers in the gardens of Agrippina. Caligula also brought the obelisk of Vatican from Egypt to the center of the Circus of Nero. The obelisk was moved to its current location to the St. Peter's Square in 1586.

Emperor Nero 
Emperor Nero completed Caligula's circus and it was called then the Circus Gaii et Neronis, or simply Circus of Nero.

The Circus of Nero is located mostly in the present-day Vatican City. The circus was the location of first organized, state-sponsored martyrdoms of Christians in 65. The traditional location of Saint Peter's tomb is in this area. The Old St. Peter's Basilica was erected over the site, using some of the existing structure of the Circus of Nero. The circus was abandoned by the middle of the second century, but some ruins seem to have survived until 1450, when they were finally destroyed by the construction of the new St. Peter's Basilica.

Circus of Nero drawing (Pietro Santi Bartoli 1699)

2. Papal States 754-1870

- Papal States is a predecessor of Vatican City
- Established in 754 as a theocracy
- The Catholic Church got the right to own land starting from 321
- The land areas of the Catholic Church grew fast through donations and inheritance
- The Church preferred to be under Byzantine protection instead of the Lombards, who ruled northern Itlay
- The Byzantine Exarchate was defeated by the Lombards in 751, which threatened Rome
- The Church allied with Pepin the Short King of Franks, who sent troops to Italy in 754 and 756
- Pepin the Short's troops conquered back the lost areas and donated them to Pope Stephen III 
- In 781 Charlemagne named the areas ruled by the pope
- The Frankish Kingdom ensured the pope's safety until the dissolution of their kingdom in 843
- The Papal State expanded greatly during the renaissance
- In 1305-1378 the popes lived in Avignon, France, under the protection of the French King
- The Papal State ceased to exist in 1434, during Napoleonic Wars and 1848, but it was revived every time
- In 1860 the Papal State lost Umbria and Marche
- In 1870 the Papal State, which consisted of only Latium, ceased to exist
- Pope Pius IX didn't approve the offer of the King of Italy for the compensation of lost lands
- Pope Pius IX refused to leave the Vatican City and so did the following popes between 1870-1929
- The "Roman Question" was solved in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty
- Vatican City was recognized as an independent state by the Kingdom of Italy in the Lateran Treaty
- Prime Minister Benito Mussolini agreed also giving financial refund to the church

Papal States in 1700

3. Avignon Papacy  

- The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1377, when seven popes resided in Avignon
- At the time Avignon was part of the Kingdom of Arles (now France)
- The situation arose from the dispute between Pope Boniface VIII and Philip IV of France
- Pope Boniface VIII's successor Benedict XI died after only eight months in office
- Finally the deadlocked conclave elected French Clement V as Pope in 1305
- Clement V declined to move to Rome, so he remained in France and moved his court to Avignon in 1309
-  The Papacy then remained in Avignon for the next 67 years
- Seven French popes reigned at Avignon and they increasingly fell under the influence of the French Crown
- In 1376 Gregory XI, the most recent French pope abandoned Avignon and moved his court to Rome, where he arrived on January 17, 1377
- Avignon remained under Papal control until 1791, when it became part of France during the French Revolution

Papal Palace in Avignon, France

4. Roman Catholic Popes 

The pope is the Bishop of Rome and the era of the pope is called pontificate.
During the pontificate of a pope, the chosen pope can practice any kind of policies that he decided and he can't be fired.
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See.

Recent popes
In 1978 Polish Karol Wojtyla or John Paul II became the first non-Italian pope since Dutch pope Adrian VI 1522-1523.
In 2013 John Paul's successor Benedict XVI was the first pope to resign since 1415.
Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio succeeded him as pope Francis.

Popes by nationality 
Italy 217
France 16
Greece 15 (3 born in Greece)
Germany 8
Syria 6
Africa 3 (Roman Africa)
Iudaea 3 (Israel)
Portugal 2
Spain 2
England 1
Netherlands 1
Poland 1
Argentina 1

Longest-reigning popes
c. 34-37 years - Peter (c. 30-64/67)
31 years - Pius IX (1846-1878)
26 years - St. John Paul II (1978-2005)

Shortest-reigning popes
13 days - Urban VIII (15-27 September 1590), died before coronation
16 days - Boniface VI (April 896)
17 days - Celestine IV (25 October-10 November 1241)

79 years 290 days - Clement X (1670)
79 years 177 days - Alexander VIII (1689)
78 years 330 days - Paul IV (1555)

Oldest popes at death or resignation (post-1295) 
93 years 140 days - Leo XIII (1903)
87 years 305 days - Clement XII (1740)
86 years 9 days - Clement X (1676)

Pope in front of the crowd

5. Pontifical Swiss Guards 

- In 1970 Pope Paul VI disbanded the Pontical Military Corps, except for the Swiss Guard 
- The Pontical Swiss Guard was established in 1506 by Pope Julius II 
- The Pontical Swiss Guard is among the oldest military units in continuous operation 
- The size of the Pontical Swiss Guard is 100 men 
- They are responsible for the safety of the Pope and the Apostolic Palace 
- The guards must be unmarried Swiss Catholic men between 19-30 years of age, who have completed training with the Swiss Armed Forces 
- Since the assassination attempt on John Paul II in 1980, there has been a stronger emphasis on the combat training of the guards 

Swiss Guards in an oath ceremony


40 Emperor Caligula built in the garden's of Agrippina the Elder a circus for charioteers that was later completed by Nero
40 The obelisk of Vatican was brought from Egypt by Caligula
64 The circus of Caligula became a site of martyrdom of many Christians after the Great Fire of Rome
326 The Constantinian basilica was built over what was thought to be the tomb of Saint Peter
754 The Papal States were established with pope as the ruler
1796 French revolutionaries conquered Italy and Rome was declared republic
1815 Pope's power was restored in the Papal States after the Congress of Vienna
1861 The 30 million strong population voted to join the Kingdom of Italy in a referendum
1870 Capture of Rome, Papal States became part of the unified Italy
1871 The Quirinal Palace was confiscated by the king of Italy and became the royal palace
1929 The dispute of Vatican City was resolved and its independence was recognized by Italy in the Lateran Treaty 
1970 The Pontical Military Corps, except for the Swiss Guard, were disbanded by will of Paul VI 
1978 Karol Wojtyla was elected as the first non-Italian Pope since Dutch Pope Adrian VI 1522-1523
2005 German Benedict XVI became the Pope after the death of John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) 
2013 Benedict XVI was the first pope to resign since 1415 and the Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio succeeded him as Pope Francis 

keskiviikko 24. toukokuuta 2017

San Marino, Cool Facts #182

<= 181. Italy                                                                                                          183. Vatican City =>

1. World's Smallest and Oldest Republic 

- San Marino is the world's smallest and oldest republic
- Besides ancient Rome it's considered as the oldest republic in history 
- The republic of San Marino was founded on September 3rd 301
- Saint Marinus escaped the Diocletianic Persecution to the Monte Titano in 301 and there he built a church, thus founding what is now the city and state of San Marino 
- When Saint Marinus died he said: "Relinquo vos liberos ab utroque homine", which meant "I leave you free from both men" referring to the Pope and Emperor 
- Saint Marinus was a stonemason from the island of Rab, from modern-day Croatia 
- Saint Marinus fleed persecution for his Christian beliefs 
- Surprisingly the republic has a crown in the flag, however it doesn't refer to monarchy but instead to sovereignty 
- San Marino and Vatican City are only remnants of the several Italian city-states, which were created and destroyed after the fragmentation of Roman Empire and before the unification of Italy in 1861 

San Marino landscape

2. Napoleon and San Marino 

In 1797 Napoleon's army presented a threat to San Marino as the troops advanced in Italy. San Marino managed to save its liberty thanks to Regent Antonio Onofri, who gained the respect and friendship of Napoleon. Due to the intervention Napoleon promised to guarantee and protect the independence of San Marino. He even offered to extend San Marino's territory according to its needs, but the offer was declined by the Regents, who feared future retaliation from other states to take back their lost areas. 

Napoleon Bonaparte sending Commissioner Gaspard Monge to San Marino

3. San Marino's role in the Italian Unification  

San Marino had an important role during the Italian unification process, which started in 1815 and ended in 1871. San Marino offered refuge for many people, because of their support for unification. One of the leaders of the unification process was Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had taken momentary refuge in San Marino with only 250 men still following him in 1849. In recognition of San Marino's support, Garibaldi accepted the wish of San Marino not to be incorporated into the new Italian state. 
San Marino's special status was recognized and San Marino entered a customs union with Italy. 

Giuseppe Garibaldi

4. Communist Government of San Marino in 1945 

- In 1945 San Marino became the first country in the world with a democratically elected communist government
- It was a coalition between the Sanmarinese Communist Party and the Sanmarinese Socialist Party
- The communists ruled San Marino from 1945 until 1957
- In 1957 the communist government was overthrown in a coup supported by the Italian government
- The Sanmarinese Christian Democratic Party became the ruling party in San Marino after the coup in 1957

Palazzo Pubblico, the seat of government of San Marino

5. Geography of San Marino 

- Monte Titano dominates the scenery in San Marino
- Monte Titano has three peaks called Montale, Cesta and Guaita and they all have their medieval fortress
- Before 1463 San Marino consisted of only Monte Titano
- In 1463 San Marino together with the Papal States successfully defended the conquest attempts in the area by the Malatesta family from Rimini
- As a reward Pope Pius II granted San Marino the villages of Fiorentino, Montegiardino and Serravalle
- Since then the borders of San Marino haven't changed

Monte Titano's three peaks with fortresses


301 Saint Marinus escaped the Diocletianic Persecution to the Monte Titano, where he built a church and thus founded what is now the city and state of San Marino
1262 The constitution of San Marino was drawn
1463 San Marino got its current borders
1631 San Marino's independence was recognized by the Papacy
1797 Napoloen conquered Italy, but he was willing to recognize the Republic of San Marino thanks to the intervention of Regent Antonio Onofri
1923-1943 Sanmarinese Fascist Party ruled the country
1944 San Marino was bombed for a while by the Allied forces, because it was thought that San Marino was overrun by Germany and used to amass stores and ammunition 
1945 San Marino had the world's first democratically elected communist government, which ruled until 1957
1957 The communist government was overthrown in a coup supported by Italy, after which the Christian Democratic Party started ruling the country
1988 San Marino became a member of the Council of Europe
1992 San Marino became a UN member