St. Peter's SquareDescription and useful information about St. Peter's Square, the square of the Basilica of Rome.
St Peter’s Square. Stop. What else? No words can describe the incredible feeling of passing through the most beautiful square in the world.
At every step you are held in a big hug that takes you towards the 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.
It's certainly not easy to talk about St Peter’s Square. Even if we can’t be exhaustive, we want to make you breathe the atmosphere of this place and, above all, entice you to visit it!
The square is a real architectural masterpiece of the genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini: a 240 meters wide ellipse that, with its colonnade, simbolically embrace the faithful.
In the center of the square rises the 25-meter Vatican Obelisk, a block of red granite supported on four bronze lions. The obelisk was erected in Egypt by order of the Romans, so it can be considered a 2000-year-old fake!
At a later time, Caligola brought it to Rome. At first, the obelisk was placed at the Circus of Nero, then, next to the old St. Peter's Basilica. In 1586, Pope Sixtus V moved it to the center of the square, where it stands today.
A curious anecdote: while it was being moved (a colossal operation that involved 900 workers and 75 horses) no one was to speak a word, as the pope ordered to keep absolute silence. However, a Genovese fisherman shouted to “water the ropes” (“Acqua alle funi!”) to prevent them from burning. The obelisk was saved from falling, and today it is the only obelisk in Rome that has never fallen.
We recommend reaching St. Peter's Square from Viale della Conciliazione to enjoy a fantastic view! Once in the square, try to stay next to the two fountains: they are located in correspondence of the focuses of the ellipse, so from there you can admire the amazing view designed by Bernini.
There is an air of mystery behind the square’s design. Bernini claimed that the huge ellipse represented “the Mother Church embracing all Catholics to confirm their faith…”, but it seems that the architect was actually influenced by the heliocentric theory, which was decreed heretical by the Vatican. Moreover, at the centre of the elliptic square stands the above mentioned Egyptian obelisk, originally placed at Heliopolis, the "City of the Sun" in the old-world.
And now, we reveal a little secret to you: from a stone located on the pavement of the square, just near the obelisk, you can see the colonnade as a single row of columns, instead of four. Try it to believe it!
The whole square is 340-meters wide and the ellipse’s arch measures 240-meters. The ellipse is partially closed on both sides by colonnades formed by 284 columns and 88 pillars. At the top of the balustrades there are 140 statues representing Catholic saints. Then, at the base of the great stepcase that leads to the Basilica, there are two big statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, in the act of waving to the faithful.
The square is a melting pot of faithful people (and not) coming from all around the world. As it is known, it is located in Vatican City, at the border of Italy. There are two main accesses: in Via di Porta Angelica and in Via della Conciliazione.
Many faithful people gather in the square on Sunday at noon: they want to attend the Angelus Domini and receive the Pope's benediction, who adresses the square from his study window. The General Audience, instead, is held on Wednesday: you may see the Holy Father on 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 tried to give you all basic information...Now it's 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 to Rome. After about 45 minutes get off 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.- 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.