Designed by Bernini in the mid-1600s, St. Peter's Square is civic architecture at its finest. You can think of the square as enveloped in two large arms that reach out from St. Peter’s Basilica – these arms are made up of the semi-circular colonnades of 284 columns. On top of the two “arms” are statues of 96 saints and martyrs.
It is from the square that you enter St. Peter’s Basilica. On the right side (if you are looking at the church), you will see the security lines. You cannot climb the stairs in front of the Basilica from the square – you will see the barriers in place. On either side of these stairs are two very large statues – the one of the right side is St. Paul and on the left is St. Peter (Peter’s statues almost always have him holding a set of keys).
Warning! As you approach St. Peter’s Square, you will begin to be approached by countless people trying to sell you sunglasses or trinkets, give you guided tours, asking you for money, and other things. The closer you get, the most frequent the requests (we counted 10 such requests to us personally in less than a block and passed so many others that were trying to deal with other people). Before heading towards this area, be sure you have secured your valuables away from pickpockets and be firm when saying ‘no’ to these people. Simply keep walking – don’t stop – don’t make eye contact. Sometimes it is hard to be rude, but these people are simply out to take your money. Avoid them when possible, ignore them when approached. Politeness does not work here and your first ‘no’ is not always adhered to (neither is your second or third ‘no’ as sometimes they will simply follow you for sometime hoping you’ll buy whatever it is they are selling to get rid of them).
You have to join the line going to St. Peter's Cathedral each time...You have to plan your trip accordingly so you won't be wasting your time in a line! Consider which one is more important to you. There are securities that you have to go through entering the church...And, believe me, depending on what time of the day you are going the line is extremely long!
It was an amazing feeling for me to be able to see the pope and stand right there on Piazza San Pietro.
Go inside and look at the amazing art, make sure you cover your shoulders and do not wear anything above your knees, they will not let you in!
Then walk the stairs inside the cupola, it's quiet a workout but well worth it once you are on top and have this amazing view of Piazza San Pietro and the entire city of Rome.
Guests enter Vatican City through expansive St. Peter’s Square. This breathtaking piazza is one place in Rome that no one should miss, regardless of their religious persuasion. The square was laid out by Bernini during the pontificates of Alexander VII and of Clement IX (1657-1667). Visitors to this magnificent square (which is actually a circle) are surrounded by two huge colonnades, with 284 Doric columns arranged in 4 rows, atop which stand 140 saints.
In the center of the square, you’ll find an 85-foot-tall Egyptian obelisk, brought to Rome by Caligula in 38 AD from Heliopolis, located on the Nile Delta. Fountains are situated on either side of the obelisk. The one sitting on the right was placed in this location but Bernini and was made by Carlo Maderno. The other was created by Carlo Fontana.
“Remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm, and look to the future with confidence.”
— His Holiness Pope John Paul II, from his general audience homily, 3.January.2001
Tickets to a Papal General Audience are free. We attended the first one of the New Year 2001, on Wednesday, the 3rd of January. It was not scheduled to begin until 10 am, but we rose at the crack of dawn to reach Piazza di San Pietro by 8:30 to get good seats, which we did. (Seats are not reserved.) It was raining, off and on. But that did not dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. The square was filled with 40,000 of the faithful.
When the Holy Father came racing around the corner in his popemobile the crowd erupted into cheers and applause. He waved vigorously. His vehicle drove through the wide aisles of the square, then up the steps of the basilica to bring him to the dais, where he delivered his homily.
A bishop from five different countries, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and America, came forward to read an introduction with mention of the groups present from those countries. The Holy Father read his homily in each of those languages. For Poland he gave the introduction and homily himself. Then he gave an apostolic blessing to all present; family members, especially sick ones, of those present; and for religious items, such as rosaries.
Technology to the rescue: to reach a wider audience, two jumbo television screens were set up to telecast the Holy Father’s image for all in the square to see. Fittingly one was placed at St. Peter’s feet, the other at the feet of St. Paul.
These two hours made for a very exciting, thrilling morning.
Go to St. Peter's Square and Basilica while in Rome, it costs you nothing to visit the Square and to enter the Basilica for an afternoon. You don't need to go with any tour guides. You may have to wait in line for about an hour though.
This is one of the most famous squares in the world and without a doubt one of the most awe inspiring in both the architecture and history. Home to the famous Easter speeches given by the Pope every spring, there is always something going on in St. Peter's Square. A ticket is not required to get in and there is never a line, so even if your on a tight time schedule you can fit in a quick visit to the world famous St. Peter's Square!
T his is a large public square outside Saint Peter's Basilica, the greatest church on Earth. The square is in fact round shaped, with two huge colonnades on the periphery. The roofs of these colonnades are supported by four rows of Doric columns, each 60-feet tall. The ellipse symbolizes Saint Peter's, the mother church of Christianity, embracing the world. At the center of the square is an Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome by Caligula in 38 AD from the Nile Delta. It was part of Nero's Circus where Saint Peter was crucified, and where construction on Saint Peter's began in 324 AD.
The obelisk was moved to its present location by Pope Sixtus V.. The obelisk is flanked by two fountains, and halfway between the fountains and the obelisk are stone circles in the ground. If you stand on one of the circles, you can see an optical illusion -- the four rows of 60-foot tall pillars forming the colonnade disappear behind each other and look like a single row. The piazza is large enough to accommodate the devotees that show up at Sunday after-noon and several other times each week to hear the Pope during the mass and to seek his blessings.
The square can accommodate about 300,000 people but has been known to allow more people to come in. The Pope delivers his blessing from a library window overlooking the square. You can approach the square, Saint Peter's, and the Vatican as a whole by coming up the Via della Conciliazione.
I am not the most religious person around but I do come from a country which has thousands of different Gods. I had heard about how mad the scramble is at the Vatican specially at the museum and I wanted to check this one out.
St Peters Square is really grand. I mean more grand than what I had imagined
Going to St. Peter's basillica is the thrill of a lifetime for most of us. Knowing we are on the same ground that St. Peter himself walked on and is buried in makes it extra special. One thing a lot of people forget to do when they arrive at St. Peter's is to take the time to look at the outside of this amazing basillica. The piazza of St. Peter's is beautiful. There is a huge 90 foot marble obelisk in the center of the piazza. This obelisk is over 2000 years old and came from Egypt. It was originally brought to Rome by the emporer Caligula. Flanking the obelisk are two wonderful fountains. The original made by Maderno and a copy mady by Bernini. There are also 284 marble colomns lining the perimeter of the piazza. Atop the colomns are 90 saints. These are each 10 feet high. Atop the church itself are statues of Jesus, John the baptist and 11 of the apostles. Flanking the steps leading into the basillica are statues of St. Peter and St. Paul.
You can spend the better part of an hour just walking around this Piazza, taking in all the wonderful sites. Even the street lamps are beautiful. So be sure to really enjoy this site when you finally get to Rome. Take lots of pictures and marvel at the enourmous amount of talent it took to make this piazza so special.
The giant square in front of St. Peters Cathedral, created by the famous architect Bernini in the mid-17th century and financed by the pope Alexander VII. who was a famous sponsor of arts and architecture in his time. The collumns on either side of the square are crowned by 144 statues of holy men and martyrs.
Technically, St. Peters square belongs to the independent Vatican State (and not to Italy). The best view on St. Peters square is from the viewing platform on St. Peters Cathedral.
Okey, there are so much to tell about the St Peter’s church and the St Peter’s piazza that it’s not possible in just one quick note here… You’ll have to go there, and discover it yourself.
The St Peter’s Church was begun to be built 1506. 120 years, and 8 architects, later it was finally done, and also changed many times.
The church is huge… So huge, and for those of you who have been reading other of my pages it can’t come as a surprise that I got lost in there, too…
Actually it’s 187 meters long inside, with a height of 132 meter from the floor up to the cupola. And there are so many things to see inside there, so it’s impossible to stay just for a short while.
Remember that security is quite hard, specially after the 11th September, and you can’t bring any bags at all inside. You’ll have to leave it outside at a place where it’s guarded. You’ll also get searched by guards, and don’t even think about going inside there with shorts or short skirts. Not a very good idea to go there on a very hot summer day in other words…
There are so many things to see inside, as the cupola painted by Michelangelo, the bronze-statue of St Peter, where the toes on one of his feet is gone, kissed too many times by pilgrims.
There is also a very famous sculpture by Michelangelo, directly to the right when you enter, of Maria and the body of Jesus.
There is also the possibility, if you’re more clever than I am, to get up on the cupola, and from there watch all the way over Rome and the Vatican City.
If you are as “stupid” as I am, you instead finds the museum inside the church, thinks it’s the official Vatican Museum, pays 8-10 euro to enter, and then get disappointed when it’s all over after just 30-40 minutes…
Obviously, for most of the visitors to Rome, St Peter's is one of the must see stops. It is the largest church in Christiandom and has a 218 meter long nave. We did not do the tour, but just wandered around the inside, which is a virtual art museum itself. The interior has 45 altars decorated by some of the most celebrated artists in history. At one point in time, it actually had two bell towers, which were subsequently removed. Make sure that you are following the proper dress code, as they can be sticklers about that. Make sure you get into the correct line, as one line goes into the church and the other goes down to the crypts.
After our visit to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel we were exhausted but walked over to St. Peter's Square. Even though it can be crowded at times it was very peaceful to sit under the vast columns and watch the crowds and take in the surroundings. The piazza, another on of Bernini's creations, was designed to hold the large crowds who arrive during religious events. It was exciting to see in person what I have only seen in news coverage.
There is a red stone on the north-west side of the square on the exact spot where Pope John Paul II was shot.
The piazza of St. Peters was laid out in the 17th century as a place for the Christians from around the world to gather. It is edged by two semi-circular colonnades, each of which is made up of 4 doric columns. Above there are 140 statues of saints.
Above the columns in the photo are the Pope's offices, it is also here that he stands to give an audience to the people in the square.
When we visited once when it was dark at night you would see the light on in these rooms.