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San Marino: The World’s Oldest Republic and a Hidden Gem

  San Marino is the third smallest country in Europe. If the 0.49 square kilometers of the Vatican is equivalent to a residential area, and the 2 square kilometers of the Grand Duchy of Monaco is equivalent to a street, San Marino covers an area of ​​61 square kilometers, which is equivalent to a central urban area in a domestic first-tier city. Almost the same, but the population is only a little over 30,000, which is far less than the size of an urban area in China. San Marino is an inland mountain country, surrounded by Italian territory. It is only 10 kilometers away from the port city of Rimini on the east coast of Italy. Standing on the top of the mountain and looking out, it is surrounded by lush mountains and forests, and you can see the blue Adriatic not far away. Yahai. Among the seven small countries in Europe, San Marino, like Monaco and Malta, is famous for its beautiful natural scenery. The only local specialty worth mentioning may be stamps. San Marino has a long history: it is the second oldest existing country in Europe. Only Armenia has been established longer than it. It is also the oldest republic in the world. The important reason why this country was founded and has maintained its independence for 1,700 years is very unique: it was founded by Christian saints.
The monastic stonemason “knocked” on the door of the Republic

  The name of the country San Marino comes from Saint Marius at the end of the 3rd century AD. It was still the end of the “Crisis of the Third Century” in the Roman Empire. Christianity was secretly spreading underground and many civilians converted to Christianity, but the imperial government still persecuted Christians. According to documentary records, Saint Marius was born in 275 in what is today Croatia. When he grew up, he became a stonemason. In order to escape persecution, he crossed the sea and came to the Italian Peninsula at the center of the empire to find work. As a stonemason, he joined the East Coast While building the city wall in the city of Rimini, he also secretly preached the gospel and was appointed a priest by the local bishop. Later, Saint Marius took a group of believers to the nearby Mount Titano and established a small hermit group, which could probably be regarded as the prototype of an autonomous monastery. This was the prototype of the later Republic of San Marino. The official history of the Republic of San Marino traces the founding of the country back to September 3, 301 AD. September 3 is also San Marino’s National Day today.

Stone walls wind along the path below the tower of San Marino’s castle. It is said that the best viewing angle is from one of the towers looking at the other towers.

  In 301 AD, almost all modern European countries had not yet taken shape at that time. Their territories were either under the rule of the Roman Empire or were barbaric lands. Only Armenia, an ancient country on the edge of Europe, had existed for hundreds of years. In 301 AD, , Christianity became the state religion of Armenia. The difference between San Marino and the ancient kingdom of Armenia is that the group of masons who followed Saint Marius to hermitage in the mountains did not want to establish a country at that time, but only established an autonomous community. There were no hereditary leaders. This community adopted an election method. To produce a leader, the only thing that could be imitated at that time was the ancient Roman Republic, so San Marino established a system of electing two consuls every six months to serve as heads of government. Later, in 1263, this ancient custom was fixed in the form of law and has been followed ever since. to this day. So San Marino became the oldest republic in world history that continues to this day.
  The people of San Marino lived in seclusion in the mountains together, living a self-sufficient life and not wanting to pay taxes to the imperial government. Fortunately, in 313 AD, the two emperors Constantine and Licinius issued the “Edict of Milan” to implement a tolerant policy towards Christianity. This small autonomous group hiding in a remote rural area no longer had to worry about religious persecution. In the hundreds of years that followed during the late Roman Empire and the Dark Ages of the early Middle Ages, amid the chaos of barbarian invasions, historical records rarely mentioned this small autonomous group.
Historical legends have become a magic weapon for body protection

  During the long Middle Ages, there were many city-states in the Italian peninsula. They went their own way and attacked each other. It is not surprising that San Marino, located in a remote mountain, could maintain its independence. By the end of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, most of the central peninsula where San Marino was located fell under the control of the Papal State. However, successive popes never wanted to annex this small independent republic. Instead, the Holy See came forward to guarantee San Marino’s independent status. After all, The reason is that the historical legend of the founding of the country by Christian saints played a big role.
  The two political turmoils that truly threatened San Marino’s independent status occurred in modern times: one was the rise of Napoleon after the French Revolution. He swept across the Italian Peninsula, destroyed countless countries, and profoundly changed the political map of the peninsula. At that time, one of the consuls of San Marino happened to be a good friend of Napoleon, and San Marino was barren and weak at the time. Napoleon looked down on this land. Out of personal friendship, the French emperor did not occupy San Marino. The second time was the period of Italian unification in the second half of the 19th century. All large and small independent kingdoms or foreign colonies on the peninsula were integrated into the unified Kingdom of Italy. Why can San Marino survive alone? It turns out that during the process of Italian national liberation and reunification, San Marino used its independent status to shelter many hunted revolutionary patriots, one of whom was Garibaldi. Later, out of gratitude, Garibaldi did not occupy San Marino during the campaign. In 1862, the Kingdom of Italy and San Marino signed a friendship agreement, which was an important step in ensuring the survival of San Marino. Later, during the two world wars, San Marino carefully maintained its political stance with Italy, but insisted on its neutrality. For example, after Mussolini came to power in Italy, the fascist party was also in power in San Marino. In 1943, Mussolini was overthrown, and the fascist party in San Marino also stepped down. Soon after, the German army took control of the Italian peninsula and continued to fight the Allies. The fascist party in San Marino Returned to power until it was liberated by the Allies in September 1944. During this period, San Marino remained neutral no matter what political party was in power, so San Marino has been able to maintain its independent status since the war.

The guards changing the guard lined up through the streets of San Marino. They wore helmets and swords, and they looked very impressive.

San Marino Government Building.

Residents of San Marino hold festive celebrations that recreate scenes of medieval life.
Explore the “most beautiful towers” along the ridge

  Today, San Marino is picturesque and not crowded with tourists, making it a tourist destination worth visiting. There is a bus from Rimini train station to the foothills of San Marino, which is ten kilometers away. There is no train station or airport in San Marino itself. From the bus station at the bottom of the mountain to the old town, it is all uphill. There is only one main road that turns back and forth several times and winds up the mountain. It is worthy of being a country founded by stonemasons. The old city is almost all made of stone buildings, and the streets are paved with cobblestones or stones.
  Halfway up the mountain is the center of the old city. A palace-style building is very eye-catching. The national emblem of San Marino is carved on the lintel of the gate and there are three castle towers. This is the seat of the San Marino government, and the Civic Square in front of it is the only open public space in the country. There is a changing of the guard ceremony here every day. The off-duty guards parade through the streets. They wear hard-shell helmets with towering tassels on the top of their hats, long swords and nineteenth-century style uniforms. air. The neoclassical church on the side of the square is the National Cathedral, which is said to contain the bones of Saint Marius. The city’s tourist service center is also here, where tourists can buy San Marino’s world-famous stamps and get an entry stamp in their passport as a souvenir. Visitor centers in small countries such as Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, and the Vatican have this service. Of course, it is not a real immigration inspection, but an entertainment program designed for tourists to “come here.”
  Continuing upward from the old city, passing a ridge, you can see the castle tower at the highest point of the mountain from a distance. The mountain has an altitude of 768 meters, which doesn’t seem high. It is better because it rises from the seaside plain and faces the cliff. , extraordinary momentum. There are three commanding heights on the top of the mountain, and a tower was built on each. This is the origin of the three towers on the national emblem of San Marino. The best viewing angle is from one of the towers looking at the other towers. On the path below the castle, the stone walls wind around and surround the red-roofed stone houses. They are spread out in a line along the ridge and connected to the three highest towers, overlooking the green forest under the cliff. Peaceful plains, with the azure Adriatic Sea in the distance. This is the most beautiful scenery in San Marino.