Saint Peter’s Square in the State of the Vatican City

The State of the Vatican City is a city state with an area of 100 acres.  It was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy.  Saint Peter’s Square and the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican are popular destinations for tourists and pilgrims alike.  The dominant structure seen from Saint Peter’s Square is the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter.  This basilica is not, in fact, the ecumenical mother church of the Roman Catholic Church.  That honor goes to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome which is the seat of the bishop of Rome – the Pope.

In front of the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter two sculptures stand guard:  Saint Peter, sculpted by Giuseppe de Fabris, and Saint Paul sculpted by Adamo Tadolini.  Near the center of Saint Peter’s Square towers an obelisk originally built by the Romans in Alexandria in about 30-28 BC and dedicated to Augustus.  It was moved to Rome by Caligula in 37 AD and was moved again to its present location by Pope Sixtus V in 1586 AD.  The obelisk was thought to have been topped at one time with a bronze globe containing the ashes of Caesar, Augustus, and Tiberius, but is now surmounted by a cross and by the mountains and the star of Pope Sixtus V.

A total of 13 obelisks that were either brought from Egypt or were constructed in Rome still exist in Rome.  Most are carved with hieroglyphics but the Obelisk of Augustus in Saint Peter’s Square does not.

The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter

The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter

SOURCE:  The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.

Saint Peter

Saint Peter

SOURCE:  Saint Peter (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.

Saint Paul

Saint Paul

SOURCE:  Saint Paul (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.

Obelisk of Augustus in Saint Peter's Square

Obelisk of Augustus in Saint Peter’s Square

SOURCE:  Obelisk of Augustus in Saint Peter’s Square (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.

Copyright © 2011 by Stephen J. Danko

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2 Responses to Saint Peter’s Square in the State of the Vatican City

  1. Donna says:

    One of my favorite places in the world to spend some time. I see you had a gorgeous day with blue skies – my favorite kind of day when you’re in the square. I especially like the perspective on the St. Peter photo. Did you have a chance to take the “Scavi” tour?

  2. Steve says:

    I think the photos of both St. Peter and St. Paul came out well, Donna. I was lucky that the weather in Rome was so pleasant while I was there. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the “Scavi” Tour, nor did I visit the Vatican Museum or the Sistine Chapel. Perhaps next time.

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