Republic of San Marino

Rocca della Guaita castle san marinoNot everyone knows that there are two small countries found within the borders of Italy. One is Vatican City, which is set inside the city of Rome, and the second is San Marino, which is located near the coast of the Adriatic Sea in northeastern Italy.

Worlds Oldest Republic

What makes the Most Serene Republic of San Marino (its official title) so unique is that it is the world’s oldest republic and the only independent city-state not to be absorbed into Italy during the 19th century.

Tradition says that San Marino was founded in 301 AD by a stonemason by the name of Marinus. With its gates and walls and towers, visitors will be amazed when they realize they are entering the last of the 200 independent city-states that existed since the Middle Ages.

There aren’t many options in getting to San Marino: there’s no train station and the closest airport is in Rimini, about 25 km to the east. A bus runs from Rimini to San Marino, but most people arrive by car.

Country within a Country

Although there is no border, there is a sign above the road that announces that one has left Italy and has arrived in San Marino. Visitors can get their passports stamped at the customs house.

San Marino is both a country and a city. The country is made up of a few villages that sit on the mountainside surrounding the main city. As the towns have an industrial atmosphere, most tourists come to explore the old part of the city sitting at the top of the mountain.

Visitors can park their cars in the car park, and then take the funivia (cable car) from the town of Borgo Maggiore up to San Marino’s “centro storico” (historic centre).

Adriatic Sea

From the top there are pleasant views of the countryside as well as the beautiful Adriatic Sea and coastline. The other advantage of being set up on a 657 m hill is that there are cooling breezes that come in from the sea.

World Heritage Site

San Marino was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008. It is a walled city and there are three towers or fortresses, the Guaita, the Cesta and the Montale. The Guita, or First Tower, is also called “La Rocca.” It is the oldest of the three and was built in the 11th century. The Cesta tower dates from the 14th century and houses a museum of old weapons. The Montale was built in the 13th century.

There are other things to see in San Marino, including several churches like the Church of the Cappuccini, the Church of San Pietro, and the Chiesa di San Francesco. The Palazzo Pubblico which goes back to the 15th century is the town hall and is also known as the Government Palace.

There’s also a library, a botanical garden and several museums, such as the St. Francis Museum, the Coin and Stamp Museum and a Wax Museum.

San Marino will appeal to tourists who appreciate history and architecture. It’s also a good place for those looking to add another country to their passport!

Rocca della Guaita castle san marino

Rocca della Guaita Castle

Rocca Guaita San Marino

Rocca Guaita

About Edward

Edward Alan Kurtz is an American writer. He specializes in writing works of fiction and non-fiction for children, as well as travel books and articles. Mr. Kurtz was born in Pennsylvania and completed several university degrees. He lived for many years in Honolulu, Hawaii, and now lives and writes in Thailand.