San Marino – the Oldest Republic in the World
My need to tick things off a list is dwindling, but I do still like going to a new country. And a tiny country that’s completely surrounded by another country? How could I pass up vising there? After spending a couple days in Nice, Andy and I arrived in Rimini, Italy and took a day trip to the tiny Republic of San Marino.
Just how small is it?
San Marino is 23.6 square miles (61.2 square kilometers) small. It’s one of the smallest countries in Europe. Actually, it’s the 3rd smallest country in Europe, after the Vatican and Monaco.
But what does that number mean? The city of Atlanta, at 132.4 square miles, is more than five times the size of San Marino. Manhattan, not even all of New York City, is about 33.8 square miles, making it more than 10 square miles bigger than San Marino. That’s a small country! And the population is only around 32,000 people.
Oldest republic in the world
San Marino was founded on September 3, 301. The fact that it has managed to retain its independence for more than 1700 years fascinates me. San Marino is located on a mountain, which means it is in a great position to watch out for attackers. But with no access to the sea, they weren’t quite important enough for someone to go after. So they had a good defensible position and were able to remain independent.
They also didn’t want to expand and resisted any opportunities to gain more land. Instead they formed alliances with their neighbors, so even though they occasionally had to fight to keep their territory, they were usually just left alone.
San Marino uses the euro as its currency, though it is not a member of the Eurozone. It is one of just a few countries not in the Eurozone that is allowed to mint its own coins and have its own design on the back.
In the 1800s the government sold noble titles in lieu of collecting taxes.
Former US President Abraham Lincoln once wrote to San Marino telling them that despite their small size, they were one of the most honored countries in history. Even though he never even set foot in their nation, they granted him citizenship.
San Marino has two heads of state who govern for six month periods.
Giuseppe Garibaldi, who ultimately united Italy, sought refuge in San Marino while fleeing from the Austrians in 1849. He then declared that the tiny nation should remain independent, which is why they were left alone when he was uniting the rest of Italy.
Towers, a castle and a view
Aside from the history, I really enjoyed seeing the famous towers of San Marino along with the castle, Castello della Guaita, and the gorgeous views. From the castle you can see the rest of San Marino plus huge sections of the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. On a clear day you can even see to the Adriatic Sea, and our guide said on rare occasions you can see a faint glimpse of the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. Andy and I went up one of the towers, though it is possible to go up two out of the three towers.
Getting to San Marino
San Marino does not have an airport or train station, so you can only get there if you have a car or by bus. The easiest way to get there is by bus from Rimini. The bus picks up across the street from the train station near the Burger King. You will see a small table set up with someone selling tickets around the departure times. Make sure you pick up a schedule with the return times. Tickets cost 4 euros each way. See here for more information about getting to San Marino, including driving directions.
Thank you to BlogVille and Visit San Marino for arranging our tour of this small but wonderful country. As always, all opinions are my own.
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July 8, 2013 @ 9:12 AM
July 8, 2013 @ 11:33 AM
Thanks Jennifer, it was!
July 17, 2013 @ 2:04 AM
Nice review Ali….my husband is from there so for us it’s another home with family there. Anyone who goes to Rimini, Italy should definately not miss going to San Marino for a visit.
July 17, 2013 @ 11:49 AM
That’s so cool, Dorothy! I found the history to be so fascinating, the idea that they were able to retain their independence all this time while so many other kingdoms got swallowed up and became part of Italy.
July 8, 2013 @ 9:54 AM
San Marino is beautiful, and you have shown this with your photos.
July 8, 2013 @ 11:33 AM
July 8, 2013 @ 10:21 AM
We visited this tiny country last year for the first time and really enjoyed it! It’s an easy day trip from where we live in Italy. Plus, it’s tax free so we can buy some things MUCH cheaper than in Italy.
July 8, 2013 @ 11:35 AM
Yeah, we saw lots of people shopping there because of the cheaper prices! That’s cool you can get there easily from where you live.
July 8, 2013 @ 9:19 PM
Those are incredible photos. I hope we visit there one day. It looks beautiful. =)
July 9, 2013 @ 5:23 PM
Thanks Nicole, I hope you do too!
July 9, 2013 @ 12:45 AM
I love that they gave citizenship to President Lincoln!!!
July 9, 2013 @ 5:33 PM
I know, so awesome!
July 9, 2013 @ 3:05 PM
Wow, it’s so tiny!!! What a crazy place. Have loved reading about your European adventures, Ali. What’s up next for you and Andy?
July 9, 2013 @ 5:35 PM
Thanks Kim, lots more coming about our trip too! We’ll be in Freiburg for a few months while Andy works and I try to figure out my next step. Hopefully we’ll be somewhere warm for a few months this winter, but it’s still up in the air.
July 9, 2013 @ 9:28 PM
I did not know this place existed but its independence is fascinating, agreed!
July 10, 2013 @ 11:03 AM
Definitely! The tiny countries are usually really interesting.
July 9, 2013 @ 9:38 PM
Seriously considering San Marino as a day trip now when I’m in Italy this October! Thanks! Absolutely love the pictures and their history sounds incredible. Just reading the date “September 3, 301” blows my mind, haha.
July 10, 2013 @ 11:06 AM
Thanks Lauren! You should totally go, it was really interesting and so gorgeous! Let me know if you have any questions.
July 10, 2013 @ 8:35 AM
Very interesting! And that’s what I call a real castle.
July 10, 2013 @ 11:13 AM
Thanks Barbara, totally agree with you!
July 10, 2013 @ 6:34 PM
This is so cool. I’ve never thought about visiting this place, but now I’m intrigued. I love castles built on the side of cliffs!
July 10, 2013 @ 11:12 PM
It’s definitely worth a trip, it’s a cool place!
July 11, 2013 @ 3:11 AM
That is one awesome castle!
July 11, 2013 @ 11:14 AM
July 13, 2013 @ 3:14 PM
This is on my very long list of things to do whenever I make my way back to Europe. Looks so pretty!
July 13, 2013 @ 5:10 PM
It was lots of fun, I hope you make it there!
Mary @ Green Global Travel
August 7, 2014 @ 6:13 PM
Great post with some interesting facts! Very cool about Lincoln having a connection here! Thanks for sharing!
August 8, 2014 @ 10:01 AM
November 7, 2014 @ 10:08 PM
Great post! I love hearing about small countries, states, etc…thanks for telling me about another!
November 7, 2014 @ 10:49 PM