St. Peter's SquareDescription and useful information about St. Peter's Square, the square of the Basilica of Rome
St. Peter's Square. Full stop. That's it. What else could we add? All the words in the world will not suffice to describe the extraordinary excitement that one feels crossing the most beautiful square in the world.
Every step brings along centuries of history, art and culture. Every step to be held in a big hug that takes you towards the extraordinary Basilica. Every step to feel in perfect harmony with everything that surrounds you. Every step to understand this magical place's both greatness and surrealism.
Talking about St. Peter's Square is surely not an easy thing. We will simply try to get you in its atmosphere, but especially to tempt you to visit it in person.
The square is really an architectural masterpiece created by the genious Gian Lorenzo Bernini: a huge 240 meter ellipse that, with its colonnade symbolically embraces all the faithful.
At the center of the square rises the 25-meter Vatican Obelisk, built with red granite, it stands out supported by four bronze lions at its base. Made in Egypt by command of the Romans, the obelisk can be considered a 2000-year-old fake!
Subsequently it was brought to Rome by Caligula and placed first at Circus of Nero and then next to the old St. Peter's Basilica. In 1586 Pope Sixtus V had it brought to the center of the square where it is today.
A curious anecdote: during the colossal operation that involved 900 workers and 75 horses, even though it had been commanded to keep absolute silence, a genovese sailor realised some ropes were breaking down and brok the silence, yelling "Acqua alle funi!" (Damp the ropes), thus saving the obelisk from falling. It is the only obelisk in Rome that has never fallen.
Entering St. Peter's Square from Viale della Conciliazione, offers a fantastic view! Once within the square, try to stay next to the two fountains, corresponding to the two focus of the ellipse, to admire the amazing view designed by Bernini.
To date, the square holds an air of mystery. While the architect maintained that the elliptical shape represented the "Holy Church that embrace all the catholics to conferm their faith...", there are many thesis that suggest that Bernini was actually influenced by the heliocentric theory considered heretic by the Church at that time. In addition, in the center of the square there is the above mentioned Egiptian obelisk, originally placed at Heliopolis, the "City of the Sun" in the old-world.
We are going to reveal a little secret here... close to the obelisk, from a stone placed at the paving of the square you will have the impression that there may actually be a single row of columns instead of four, since they are perfectly aligned. Try and see!
The whole square is 340 meters wide and the ellipse has a 240-meters arch. The ellipse is partially closed in both sides by colonnades formed by 284 columns and 88 pillars. Over the balustrades on top of every colonnade there are 140 statues representing many Catholic saints. Finally, at the base of the great steps that bring to the basilica, there are two big statues of St. Peter and St. Paul represented in the act of waving at the faithful.
The square is a meeting point for millions of faithful and not only, coming from all around the world. As it is known, the square is placed within the Vatican City at the border of the Italian State. The main accesses are Via di Porta Angelica and Via della Conciliazione.
Many faithful gather on Sunday at noon, to attend the Angelus Domini and receive the Pope's benediction, who adresses the square from his study window. Every Wednesday, instead, the general audience is held and, during it, the Holy Father can be seen going around with his Papa-mobile among the crowd.
St. Peter's Square is a place absoluty extraordinary and alive, set of important historical events. Always fully crowded by tourists and faithful, business men, estremamente affollata di turisti e fedeli, uomini d'affari, tradesman or simply passersby, the square is a real crossroad where cultures and ethnic groups from the most disparate sides of the world gather and embrace. Being a Catholic or not, it doesn't matter: visiting St. Peter's Square is an experience that you will never forget.
We have tried our best to tell you about it, now it is your turn to take the first step into the eternal square.
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St. Peter's Square - Vatican City
- HOW TO GET THERE
- St. Peter's Square is well linked by public transport and you can reach it in many ways.- From Civitavecchia: Reach Civitavecchia Train Station and get on the first regional train bound to Rome. After about 45 minutes get off directly at Roma San Pietro Train Station. From there you can walk towards the square (10 minutes) or take bus 64 from Piazza della Stazione di San Pietro and get off after 2 stops at Via di Porta Cavalleggeri. You are one step away from the square.To check the trains timetable visit the official site of Trenitalia (English Version).- From Rome: Get off at the metro station Ottaviano - line A. Walk down Via Ottaviano until Piazza Risorgimento. Continue to Via di Porta Angelica at the end of which you will catch a glimpse of the famous colonnade through a small archway.You can reach the square also by bus. Next to Via di Porta Cavalleggeri stop lines 62 and 64, and also 190, 916, 46, 98, 982, 46 and 881.From Roma Termini Station, you can take bus 40 (stop P.ZA PIA/CASTEL S. ANGELO) and after 7 stops get off at TRASPONTINA/CONCILIAZIONE, close to Via della Conciliazione.