Founded as a monastic society in 301 AD, San Marino is Europe’s oldest republic. With a total geographic area of just 61 square kilometers or 24 square miles, San Marino is a sovereign state that is essentially surrounded by Italy. Although this tiny country is engulfed by Italy, it still maintains its own traditions, customs, sports teams, and even has its own army. Put on the map in recent history due to its famous Formula One Racing Grand Prix, San Marino has become a tourist hot spot, attracting visitors from all over the world.
• Rich history
• Historical landmarks
• Formula One Racing
It is said that San Marino was founded on September 3rd in the year 301 AD by a monk named St Marinus. Forced to leave the city of Rimini due to the religious persecution imposed by Emperor Diocletian, St Marinus fled to the slopes of Monte Titano, where he built a small church. Attracting religious exiles, this little church slowly developed into a monastic community that had managed to maintain its independence due to its inaccessible location, quiet existence, and poor living standards. After a meager existence, San Marino was recognized as an independent state by the Papacy in 1631. The only major threat to the existence of San Marino came at the advance of Napoleon’s army in 1797, but due to the diplomacy of Antonio Onofri (one of its Regents), who managed to befriend Napoleon, this little state was spared. In fact, Napoleon agreed to guarantee San Marino’s sovereignty, and even offered to expand its borders - an offer that was politely declined by the governors of San Marino in order to maintain the status quo with the other states. San Marino remained neutral throughout all the major conflicts that involved Italy. From the Italian reunification in the 19th century, to World War I and World War II, San Marino always managed to maintain its neutrality and offer humanitarian assistance to those who needed it.