The Colosseum (Colosseo) is an almost two thousand year old gladiatorial arena located in the heart..Vatican Information
Located in the Italian city of Rome and situated to the west of the River Tiber the Vatican City is..Saint Peters Basilica Information
Basilica of St. Peter (Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano) Located in the Vatican City and..The Pantheon Information
Located in central Rome the Pantheon is an almost two thousand year old temple that has withstood..Trevi Fountain Information
Located in central Rome in Trevi rione the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is one of Rome's most..See all locations in Rome
Saint Peter's Square (Piazza di San Pietro) is located directly in front of the Basilica of Saint Peter and was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It was constructed over a period of twelve years from 1656 until completion in 1667 and is approached by the 500m long Via della Conciliazione the "Road of the Conciliation"
Saint Peter's Square is comprised of a large elliptical open space framed by massive Tuscan colonnades that are 4 columns deep. In the centre of this area is the obelisk from the Circus of Nero as well as two large fountains. The original fountain was designed by Maderno in 1613 and the second was introduced by Bernini in 1675 to compliment the first and to frame the central obelisk.
The obelisk from the Circus of Nero in the centre of the square is made from red Egyptian granite and is 25.5m high but reaches a height of 40m when the the base and the cross on top are included. The obelisk was bought to Rome from Egypt in 37AD by Emperor Caligula and incorporated into his circus and it was in this circus that it's believed St Peter was crucified. The obelisk was later moved to it's current position in 1586 and it is notable that it is the only obelisk not to have toppled over since being erected in ancient Rome. The bronze ball atop the obelisk is believed to contain Julius Caesars ashes and the star on top (the Chigi Star) contains fragments of the True Cross.
Flowing on from the elliptical section of the piazza is a smaller trapezoidal area that frames and highlights the facia of the basilica. The trapezoidal design creates the perception of being closer to the basilica than one actually is.
On popular occasions when the Pope makes an appearance in St Peter's Basilica the square is packed with upwards of 100,000 people but on any normal day you can expect to find several hundred people milling about at any one time, but considering it is around 6 acres in area it is rarely crowded. The basilica can attract up to 20,000 visitors on peak days most of whom enter via Saint Peter's Square.
It is important to remember St Peter's Basilica is a venerated site so if you intend to visit the basilica dress appropriately and avoid short pants and skirts, and ensure shoulders are covered.