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Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square)

The open-air heart of the Catholic world, Piazza San Pietro is at the pinnacle of religious architecture, especially as the sun sets.

There’s only one way you should approach the Piazza San Pietro: head directly up the Via della Conciliazione to come face-to-face with the majestic dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. Once you are standing in the piazza, better known as St. Peter’s Square, you will be in no doubt that you are at the very center of the smallest state in the world.

The piazza as it is today is the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The Baroque architect was appointed in the mid-17th century to create a space that would allow the greatest number of people to see the pope as he made public addresses from the Vatican Palace. Every Easter Day, the Piazza San Pietro is still thronged by pilgrims who turn out to witness the pope deliver his annual message. In reality, there is rarely a quiet day at the piazza.

The key is to take your time to pick out the points of interest you wish to see. Positioned right at the core of the piazza is the Egyptian obelisk, more than 82-feet (25-meter) tall and crafted out of red granite. It’s claimed that the obelisk was moved by Caligula in the year 37 from Alexandria to the Circus of Nero, a brutal theater of death games and crucifixions, which stood on the current site of the piazza. This is also the spot where St. Peter’s life ended at the hands of the Romans. There’s a striking painting of his martyrdom by Caravaggio in the Cerasi Chapel.

Forming the elliptical shape of the piazza are the towering, four-deep colonnades, which are ingeniously positioned to create an optical illusion. Looking just above the colonnades, you will see a multitude of statues, a collection of saintly figures including St. John the Baptist and Christ the Redeemer. St. Peter himself occupies a position to the right-hand side of the steps leading to the basilica, and was sculpted by Giuseppe De Fabris. He is faced on the other side by St. Paul.

St. Peter's Square is in central Rome. You can walk there from the city center; the most direct route is to cross the Tiber and walk straight up Via della Conciliazione. The Metro train station Ottaviano is a short walk away along Via Ottaviano.


Guide to Exploring around St. Peter's Square


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Map

Lodging Near St. Peter's Square

See all 3,939 Hotels near St. Peter's Square
$85
Grand Hotel Olympic

Grand Hotel Olympic

Via Properzio 2/a, Rome
3.4
of 5, from 2,660 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

This Art Nouveau hotel is 1 block from Rome's Vatican Museums and 2 blocks from Saint Peter's Cathedral; it is near Via Cola di Rienzo shopping street, 1 kilometer from Castel S'Angelo and 3 kilometers from the Pantheon.

$82
Relais Vatican View

Relais Vatican View

Via del Mascherino 34, Rome
4.5
of 5, from 395 reviews
0.0 out of 5.0

Located in Rome City Centre, this guesthouse is within a 10-minute walk of St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica, and Castel Sant'Angelo. Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are also within 15 minutes.

$85
Starhotels Michelangelo

Starhotels Michelangelo

Via Della Stazione Di San Pietro 14, Rome
4.3
of 5, from 2,982 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

This hotel draws business travelers and families to its doors, 2 blocks from Rome's Vatican City, Saint Peter's Basilica and Square; Vatican Museum is a half-mile away, as is Castle San Angelo.

Hotel Residenza in Farnese

Hotel Residenza in Farnese

Via del Mascherone 59, Rome
4.1
of 5, from 216 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Navona, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Palazzo Farnese and Campo de' Fiori. Piazza Navona and Pantheon are also within 15 minutes.

$79
Hotel Columbus

Hotel Columbus

Via Della Conciliazione 33, Rome
4.0
of 5, from 1,215 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

This 15th-century Rome hotel occupies a palace that housed cardinals for 65 years and priests for 200 years, and lies 400 meters from St Peter's Basilica and 300 meters from the River Tiber.

$281
Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina -The Leading Hotels of the World

Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina -The Leading Hotels of the World

Via del Gianicolo 3, Rome
4.5
of 5, from 500 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

This family-friendly Rome hotel is located on the riverwalk, within a 15-minute walk of Castel Sant'Angelo, Villa Farnesina, and St. Peter's Square. Campo de' Fiori Market and Piazza Navona are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$117
Trianon Borgo Pio

Trianon Borgo Pio

Piazza delle Vaschette n 13, Rome
4.5
of 5, from 714 reviews
0.0 out of 5.0

Modern apartments in historic central Rome, 300 meters from Vatican City, 400 meters from the Sistine Chapel, and 1 km from the Coliseum and Spanish Steps.

$139
Residenza Paolo VI

Residenza Paolo VI

Via Paolo VI, 29, Rome
4.5
of 5, from 186 reviews
0.0 out of 5.0

Located in Rome City Centre, this property is steps from St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica. Sistine Chapel and Castel Sant'Angelo are also within 15 minutes.