Piazza San Pietro

Piazza di S. Pietro - 00120 Vatican City

Piazza San Pietro is a masterpiece of Bernini's architecture (created in 1656-67). It looks like an immense ellipsis of 240 meters wide. In the end of the opposite side of a magnificent rectangular churchyard the façade of the basilica looks out. It is dominated by the Michelangielo dome. Two side hemycicles are constituted of impressive arcades with fourfold line of doric columns delimitating three lines, the middle of which is the widest. Totally there are 284 columns and 88 pillars. The entablature is crowned by 140 statues of saints and big coats of arm of Alexander VII. At the end of the rightside porch there is the bronze door of the Vatican palace.

In the center of the square between two magnificent fountains the obelisk of 25,50 meters high is posed on the back of 4 bronze lions. The lions at the corners of the high pedestal are created by Prospero Antichi. Above in the place where is the bronze emblem with the mounts and the star of the Chigi, a relic of Christ's Cross is contained. The height of the cross is about 41 meters.

The ancient Egyptian obelisk of Ramset II came from Eliopoli from where it had been transported by Caligola in 37 to adorn the Nero's circus.

In 1586 the pope Sixtus V ordered to transport it to the current place by Domenico Fontana. The enterprise is remained in the memorandum. 44 hoists, 900 workers and 140 horses were used in the construction. The work that required the exceptional skill was performed in 1586.
There is a famous anecdote about it.There was the absolute silence when the pulled cords for raising the obelisk started creaking for what a Ligurian sailor shouted "Water to the ropes!" and received a reward from the Pope for the avoided danger.

"Where there is an obelisk there should be a square" they say. But the square appeared only 70 years later in 1656 when Bernini invented the magnificent ellipse equal from both sides. "It welcomes Catholics to strengthen their faith, heretics to join the Church, the unfaithful to illuminate them".

To make his idea more effective Bernini built the colonnade so as to obtain the optic effects. Walking beside it seems that it is in movement. Looking out from the center of the square in the point indicated by a circular stone near the obelisk the colonnade seems to be compound of the only one line of columns.

Two high fountains of 14 meters (the right one was built up in 1613 by Carlo Maderno by the desire of Paolo V. The other one was created in 1677 by Carlo Fontana. Both of them throw very high jets of water that fall on huge monolith cups made of eastern granite.

One can approach to the square from the Via della Conciliazione invented by Marcello Piacentini and Attilio Spaccarelli as a monumental access. The arrangement of the obelisk- lamps in 1950 marked the completion of this discussed creation in the name of which the medieval and renaissance cloth of the borghi was sacrificed. Some strokes are kept in borgo Pio and borgo Vittorio together with the Leonine walls.

There is no other square in the world that would join the form and function better. From the stage of the basilica, the Pope appears to bless the stalls of the faithful. From the square one enters the Basilica to turn from a spectators into an actor of the Faith.

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