St. Peter's Square & Area
(see list below)

The Square

Vatican City

Colonnade Saints
Floorplan #2

The History

Related Items
The Facade
The Obelisk
The Wind Rose
The Passetto
St Peter Statue
St Paul Statue
Piazza San Pietro




St. Peter's Basilica is open daily, Apr-Sep 7:00-19:00; Oct-Mar 7:00-18:00

The Square - Piazza San Pietro
This monumental elliptical space (240m wide), is the masterpiece of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who laid it out during the pontificates of Alexander VII and of Clement IX (1657-1667)

1. Colonnades & 140 Statues 
The Colonnades consist of 284 Doric columns and 88 pilasters of travertine marble. These columns, 13m. tall, are arranged in four rows. With the trabeation surmounted by a balustrade, the overall height is 21m. Bernini built two straight covered wings (Charlemagne left, Constantine right) 120 m. long, to link with the basilica's façade.

2. The Passetto
This covered passageway (apx 800m) between the Vatican and Castel Sant Angelo was an escape route for Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome in May 1527.

3. Alexander VII Coat of Arms
Six papal coat of arms of Alexander VI (1655-1667) are located around the square. It was Alexander who decided to build the square as we know it today.

4. The Fountains (8m high)
The fountain on the right is the work of Carlo Maderno (1613). Bernini, who designed the square, had it erected where it now stands, and for purposes of symmetry built the fountain on the left (1675).

5. The Obelisk (25.31m high)
The obelisk from Egypt (1835 BC), was brought to Rome in 37 BC by Emperor Caligula for his circus. It became the witness of martyrdom of St. Peter and other Christians. Sixtus V had Fontana move it to its current position in 1586.

6. Centro del Colonnato
Between the obelisk and each fountain are white marble discs with a granite center, which mark the centers of each colonnade. Standing on the disc, you will see only the fist row of columns.

7. Sundial Markers
From the obelisk toward the fountain on the right, are white marble discs used as sundial markers for the obelisk. Two dates are inscribed on each disc to indicate when the noon shadow of the obelisk will reach this spot. There are also four discs showing the points of the compass as 'winds'.

8. Papal Water Fountain
Just outside the colonnade, against the passetto wall, is the fountain of the four tiaras. Or you could just use one of the four fountains around the obelisk.

9. John Paul II Shot Here
A small red porphyry stone in the pavement of the square, marks the spot where Pope John Paul II was shot on May 13, 1981.




10. Bronze Doors
Just beyond the colonnade on the right, is the Bronze Doors used as an entrance to the Apostolic Palace. Swiss Guards stand at this door, but they may be approached to obtain tickets to the Wednesday Papal Audience.

11. Entrance to Charlemagne Wing
The top of the Charlemagne Wing has been converted into an exhibition hall. Occasionally exhibits are held here.

12. Restrooms
There are three main restroom areas. Along the Charlemagne Wing (left side), beyond the colonnades on the upper right side, and in the bag check area on the right side of the facade of the basilica.

13. Apostolic Palace
The Apostolic Palace is actually a group of buildings which include the Papal residence.

14. Papal Apartment
The Papal Apartment occupies the top floor of the Apostolic Palace. The top two right windows are the study and bedroom of the pope. On Sundays at noon, the pope usually appears at the second window from the right to pray the Angelus and bless the crowd in the Square.

15. Statue of St. Peter
Pius IX (1846-1878) decided to replace older statues of Sts. Peter and Paul, with the current larger ones on Easter 1947. The previous pope, Gregory XVI (1831-1846) had commissioned Giuseppe De Fabris to sculpt this statue for St. Paul Outside-the-Walls from 1838-1840.

16. Statue of St. Paul
This statue was sculpted in 1838 by Adamo Tadolini, a student of Canova. St. Paul has a long sword in his right hand, while his left hand holds a book. On the book is the inscription in Hebrew letters: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me", from Phil 4:13.

17. Information & Post Office
A good place to send a post card home, this office also has an information window where you can change money, and some good papal souvenirs. Closed Sunday. Free tours in English start here at 14:15, on Mon, Wed, Fri, at 15:00.

18. Vatican Book Store
This is the best place to buy a book about St. Peter's Basilica. They offer a wide variety of books in multiple languages.

19. Mater Ecclesiae
Covering a window facing the square, the "Mater Ecclesiae" mosaic was commissioned by Pope John Paul II in thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary after the assassination attempt.

20. Paul VI Hall
If you attend the Wednesday Papal Audience in the winter, it's usually held in the Paul VI Hall.

21. Arch of the Bells Entrance
Swiss Guards at this entrance will let you pass if you have business in the Vatican, or if you have reservations for the Scavi tour. Above this arch are the bells of St. Peter's, the largest with a diameter of 2.5m.



22. Bag Check
Checking your backpack is mandatory and free at this location to the right of the basilica. It also has the newest restrooms, and now you can rent an audio tour of the basilica. Tip: The stairs near the restrooms are the fastest way to the roof elevator.

23. The Facade (Carlo Maderno)
This bigger than a football field (118m by 48m) facade has an inscription from Pope Paul V in 1612, but was completed two years later. The basilica was consecrated by Urban VIII on Nov. 18, 1626.

24. Loggia of the Blessings
It's from here that the new pope is announced with "Habemus Papam", and gives the "Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing. The relief below the balcony, by Buonvicino (1614), is of Jesus handing St. Peter the keys.

25. The Clocks
Since Bernini's bell towers had to be torn down, Giuseppe Valadier designed these two clocks from 1786-1790. The one on the right, with one hand to show European mean time, is called the Oltramontano clock. The one on the left, showing Rome time, is called the Italian clock.

26. Obelisk Marker
If you're lucky enough to book the Scavi tour under St. Peter's, you'll see the spot where the obelisk stood from the time of Caligula until Fontana moved it to the square in 1586.

27. Statues on the Facade (5.7m tall)
Surmounting the balustrade you'll find Christ the Redeemer, St. John the Baptist and 11 Apostles. From the left: St. Thadeus, St. Matthew, St. Philip, St. Thomas, St. James the Greater, St. John the Baptist, The Redeemer, St. Andrew, St. John the Evangelist, St. James the Lesser, St. Bartholomew, St. Simeon, St. Matthias.

28. Scavi Office
You'll need reservations well in advance for the Scavi tour of the Necropolis. Information on this tour to St. Peter's tomb can be found on the Vatican Website. The e-mail is:

29. The Sacristy & Treasury
Pius VI (1702-1786) had this built in 1776. The Treasury is entered from the basilica, and contains gifts donated over the centuries. Open Apr.-Sept. daily 9:00-18:30; Oct.-Mar. 9:00-17:15. €5, children 12 and under €3

30. Roof of St. Peter's
After taking the elevator and then walking around the inside of the dome, you end up on the roof of St. Peter's where you'll find a coffee bar and gift shop, and a second elevator (or stairs) down into the basilica.

31. Sistine Chapel
The roof of the Sistine is visible from St. Peter's Square. It's from here that the famous white smoke announcing a new pope is seen. Access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel is a 15 min. walk (north) around the Vatican walls.

32. Dome of St. Peter's
Michelangelo's famous dome is accessed from an elevator to the roof (€7), a walk inside the dome (great view into the basilica), and then 323 steps to the best view of Rome. Apr-Sep 8:00-17:45, Oct-Mar 8:00-16:45.

The Passetto Bag Check & Restrooms Dome of St. Peter's Sistine Chapel Roof of St. Peter's Scavi Office Statues on the Facade Old Obelisk Location The Clocks Loggia of the Blessings Arch of the Bells Entrance Paul VI Hall Mater Ecclesiae Book Store Information & Post Office Statue of St. Paul Papal Apartment Apostolic Palace Restrooms Entrance to Charlemagne Wing Bronze Doors John Paul II was shot here Papal Water Fountain Center of the Colonnades The Fountains The Fountains Alexander VII Coat of Arms The Facade of St. Peter's Sacristy & Treasury Museum Saints on the Colonnade Statue of St. Peter The Egyptian Obelisk St. Peter's Square - Piazza San Pietro