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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


Best Lodging Options Near St. Peter's Square

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Hotel 87 Eighty-Seven - Maison D'Art Collection NT$2,146
Hotel 87 Eighty-Seven - Maison D'Art Collection

Hotel 87 Eighty-Seven - Maison D'Art Collection

Via del Tritone 87-89, Rome, Rome
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    This family-friendly Rome hotel is located in the historical district, steps from Via del Tritone, Via Veneto, and Piazza Barberini. Piazza di Spagna and Trevi Fountain are also within 10 minutes. Barberini Station is only a 3-minute walk and Spagna Station is 7 minutes.

    Otivm Hotel NT$1,947
    Otivm Hotel

    Otivm Hotel

    Via D'Aracoeli, 11, Rome
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Navona, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Piazza Venezia, Via del Corso, and Roman Forum. National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II and Capitoline Museum are also within 5 minutes. Colosseo Station is 14 minutes by foot and Cavour Station is 15 minutes.

      Vatican Style Suite NT$1,970
      Vatican Style Suite

      Vatican Style Suite

      Via del Macherino 46, Rome, Lazio
         
        0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Vatican, this guesthouse is within a 5-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo and St. Peter's Square. St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel are also within 10 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 8 minutes by foot and Rome San Pietro Station is 15 minutes.

        Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House NT$2,445
        Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House

        Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House

        Via Mocenigo 7, Rome, RM
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in the center of Rome, this family-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Vatican Museums and Vatican Gardens. St. Peter's Square and Via Cola di Rienzo are also within 15 minutes. Cipro Station is 6 minutes by foot and Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 8 minutes.

          Villa Agrippina Gran Meliá - The Leading Hotels of the World NT$11,955
          Villa Agrippina Gran Meliá - The Leading Hotels of the World

          Villa Agrippina Gran Meliá - The Leading Hotels of the World

          Via del Gianicolo 3, Rome, RM
             
            5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            This family-friendly Rome hotel is located on the riverwalk, within a 10-minute walk of St. Peter's Square and Castel Sant'Angelo. Villa Farnesina and Piazza Navona are also within 15 minutes. Rome San Pietro Station is 12 minutes by foot and Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 18 minutes.

            VOI Donna Camilla Savelli Hotel NT$3,532
            VOI Donna Camilla Savelli Hotel

            VOI Donna Camilla Savelli Hotel

            Via Garibaldi 27, Rome, RM
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Trastevere, this romantic hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Campo de' Fiori, and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. Piazza Navona and Pantheon are also within 1 mi (2 km). Rome Quattro Venti Station is 22 minutes by foot and Rome San Pietro Station is 23 minutes.

              Hotel Sant' Anna NT$2,989
              Hotel Sant' Anna

              Hotel Sant' Anna

              via borgo pio 134, Rome, RM
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo, St. Peter's Square, and Castel Sant'Angelo. St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel are also within 10 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 10 minutes by foot and Lepanto Station is 18 minutes.

                Rome Services Borgo Suites NT$946
                Rome Services Borgo Suites

                Rome Services Borgo Suites

                Borgo Vittorio, 85, Rome, Rome
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Vatican, this townhouse accommodation is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo, St. Peter's Square, and St. Peter's Basilica. Castel Sant'Angelo and Sistine Chapel are also within 10 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 9 minutes by foot and Cipro Station is 17 minutes.