The Rome Basilica of St. Peter, in which the most important ceremonies of the Catholic Church are celebrate, stands on the site of a much smaller basilica erected in the years 324 – 349 by will of the Roman emperor Constantine to honour the tomb of the first Pope, the apostle Peter.
Saint Peter’s Square – Piazza San Pietro is the large public square outside Saint Peter’s Basilica, created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and commissioned by Pope Alexander VII in 1656. The square is actually round, with the perimeter marked by two huge colonnades. The roofs of these colonnades are supported by four rows of Doric columns 60-feet tall. The ellipse symbolizes Saint Peter’s, the mother church of Christianity, embracing the world.
Sights and Landmarks on and nearby Piazza San Pietro – St Peter’s Square
The Vatican Obelisk — 25,5 meters tall Egyptian obelisk standing in the center of the square.
Via della Conciliazione — famous street connecting Saint Peter’s Square to the Castel Sant’Angelo on the western bank of the Tiber River. The street it is bordered by a number of hotels and historical, religious buildings such as the Palazzo Torlonia, the Palazzo dei Penitenzieri and the Palazzo dei Convertendi, and the churches of Santa Maria in Traspontina and Santo Spirito in Sassia.
The Bernini Fountain — fountain located on the southern part of the square, build by Bernini and commissioned by Pope Clement X in 1667.
The Carlo Maderno Fountain — fountain set on Piazza St Peter’s designed by architect Carlo Maderno in 1612.
The Colonades — imposing colonnade leading to St Peter’s Basilica composed of 284 columns and 88 pillars. On top of the colonnade are 140 statues of saints, crafted by a number of sculptors between 1662 and 1703.