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travel guide Saint Peter square, Rome sightseeing

A large square in front of the Basilica St. Peter was designed and constructed by architect Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini in 1656-1667. Bernini is considered the creator of baroque style in architecture and the square is a good example of this style.

After the Basilica of St. Peter was consecrated in 1626 there at once arose the question of a large square in front of the cathedral where the Catholics could come and listen to the addresses of the Pope from the window of the Lateran Palace. The palace is to the right from the cathedral. The Basilica of St. Peter could seat about 60 thousand people but then the square could accommodate over 400 thousand people.

The formation of the architectural ensemble of the square began a century before the construction of the colonnade. The Egyptian granite obelisk is in the middle of the square. The emperor Caligula brought it from Heliopolis back in 37 B.C. For a long time the obelisk was on the stadium but in 1586 it was moved and installed in the middle of the square of St. Peter. Later, two fountains were added at the sides of the obelisk.

The project of Bernini provided for two squares – a square one, just in front of the cathedral, and an oval one, surrounded on both sides by a magnificent colonnade. This made the entire ensemble of the square very harmonious. 

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