This stunning square in Rome, dedicated to St Peter, was built between 1656 and 1667 by architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Piazza San Pietro is among the most famous squares in the world, and opens just in front of St. Peter's Basilica , in Vatican City (Rome). The Piazza is one of the masterpieces of Baroque architecture.
When he accepted the job from Pope Alexander VII, Bernini was confronted with the difficulty of designing the right perspective between the square, the dome of Michelangelo and the facade of the Basilica.
Bernini 's ingenious solution was to invent an imposing colonnade surrounding the square without overlapping with the existing buildings , including the Pope’s apartment from where the Pope himself gives his blessing, and outlining two distinct parts : the first trapezoidal, to accompany the spectators’ view towards the entrance of the basilica , the second made of two majestic elliptical semicircles.
The famous colonnade of St. Peter's Square in Rome is composed of 4 rows of 284 columns and 88 pillars and creates a monumental and impressive view that encircles the square without actually closing any space .
With this solution, Bernini , a true expert in perspectives , gives us the feeling that the facade of the Basilica is quite close to the square and this ability is typical of Baroque optical tricks, that always create a spectacular effect .
We can say that this colonnade is more a sculpture than an architectural element.
The balustrade above the columns is decorated with 140 statues of saints.
Below, a huge staircase is flanked by the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul.
At the center of Piazza San Pietro two large fountains and the Vatican obelisk , brought to Rome by Caligula; Sixtus IV ordered its removal from the original site: it took 4 months and many men with many machines to bring the obelisk to its present position in Rome.