Featuring towering columns that surround you, almost like arms embracing you inside the world’s smallest country, is St Peter’s Square—otherwise known as Piazza San Pietro.
Perhaps one of the most famous squares, St Peter’s Square has become quite the gathering spot for tourists—and with its location inside the Vatican City, just in front of St Peter’s Basilica, it’s easy to see why!
Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini with the support of Pope Alexander XII, the square was constructed between 1656 and 1667, with an emphasis on providing a large open space to enable the maximum number of people to watch as the Pope gave his blessing.
There are 284 columns with 140 statues of saints (created by the disciples of Bernini in 1670) above them. In the centre of St Peter’s Square, you’ll find an obelisk. Not the type you’ll see in a Marvel series, but an obelisk which was carried from Egypt all the way to Rome in 1586 and stands a whopping 25m tall.
St Peter’s Square was a place that I visited after a few days of roaming around Rome.
I was visiting Italy during the Easter holidays which, admittedly, wasn’t my best plan. It was pretty dang busy everywhere I went. But when you wake up in Rome and have the option to check out a new country within 15 minutes, you can’t really resist—no matter how busy a place is!
After whizzing across the city on the Metro, I ventured into Vatican City intending to explore the museums and St Peter’s Basilica. But as I stepped into St Peter’s Square, I saw the queues.
Rows upon rows of people stood circling the square.
But with dimensions that boast a spectacular 240m width and 320m in length, St Peter’s Square could handle it. Which is more than can be said for me! As a British person, I can handle a queue…
But this queue was something else.
It literally circled around St Peter’s Square and then some. Which is not only incredibly overwhelming, but tests how much you actually want to see the Basilica and those museums!
Turns out I didn’t want to see them that much, so I left to go and get food instead.
I saw them the next day.
But before I left to get food, I strolled around St Peter’s Square for a bit.
You see, St Peter’s Square got its name from Saint Peter (obviously), and ol’ Peter was supposedly an apostle of Jesus considered by numerous Catholics to be the first Pope. And the reason that St Peter’s Square was so busy on the day we visited, is because the actual Pope was there and had hosted a speech earlier that day.
I didn’t go because, well, I didn’t know about it (oops) but also can’t imagine I would have gone if I did. But even though I didn’t, numerous others did. And even though the speech had ended hours before I arrived, it was pretty cool that the ol’ Pope had brought so many people together in one place.
Unfortunately, it meant that my plans to go sightseeing weren’t going to happen that day, which was a shame, but fortunately, I was able to find space on a tour for the next morning, so I switched my plans around and booked it in! Only to discover that this tour not only covered all of the key sights in Vatican City—it also included a queue jump. Dreamy!