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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.

There are heaps of wonderful ways to get the most out of St. Peter's Square. Here is a list of our favorites:

For even more things to do, examine our Rome things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around St. Peter's Square


Map

Best Lodging Options Near St. Peter's Square

See all 10,420 Properties near St. Peter's Square
Hotel Quirinale NT$2,768
Hotel Quirinale

Hotel Quirinale

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

    Located in Repubblica, this family-friendly Rome hotel is steps from Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Via Nazionale, and Via XX Settembre. Via Veneto and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore are also within 10 minutes. Repubblica - Opera House Station is only a 2-minute walk and Barberini Station is 8 minutes.

    Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House NT$2,627
    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 Monte Mario are also within 15 minutes. Cipro Station is 6 minutes by foot and Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 8 minutes.

      Grand Hotel Olympic NT$1,714
      Grand Hotel Olympic

      Grand Hotel Olympic

      Via Properzio 2/a, Rome, RM
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo and Castel Sant'Angelo. St. Peter's Square and Vatican Museums are also within 15 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 7 minutes by foot and Lepanto Station is 13 minutes.

        Starhotels Michelangelo NT$2,918
        Starhotels Michelangelo

        Starhotels Michelangelo

        Via Della Stazione Di San Pietro 14, Rome, RM
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Vatican, this family-friendly Rome hotel is within a 10-minute walk of St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica, and Sistine Chapel. Castel Sant'Angelo and Vatican Museums are also within 1 mi (2 km). Rome S. Pietro Station and Rome San Pietro Station are within a 5-minute walk.

          San Pietro Boutique Rooms NT$2,903
          San Pietro Boutique Rooms

          San Pietro Boutique Rooms

          Via Properzio, 32, Rome, RM
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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

            NH Collection Roma Giustiniano NT$3,050
            NH Collection Roma Giustiniano

            NH Collection Roma Giustiniano

            Via Virgilio 1 E/F/G, Rome, RM
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo, Chiesa Valdese, and Auditorium Conciliazione. Castel Sant'Angelo is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) away. Lepanto Station is 11 minutes by foot and Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 11 minutes.

              Trianon Borgo Pio NT$2,795
              Trianon Borgo Pio

              Trianon Borgo Pio

              Piazza delle Vaschette n 13, Rome, RM
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Vatican, this residence is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo, Castel Sant'Angelo, and St. Peter's Square. St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel are also within 15 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 10 minutes by foot and Lepanto Station is 16 minutes.

                Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina -The Leading Hotels of the World NT$7,834
                Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina -The Leading Hotels of the World

                Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina -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 S. Pietro Station is 12 minutes by foot and Rome San Pietro Station is 12 minutes.