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Piazza San Pietro
St. Peter's Square , an architectural masterpiece of Bernini ( 1656-67 ) , is an immense ellipse of 240 meters wide. In the background, beyond a great rectangular churchyard , raises the facade of the basilica , dominated by the imposing Michelangelo's dome . The two side semicircles are formed by towering colonnades to quadruple row of Doric columns , defining three lanes , of which the median wider. In total there are 284 columns and 88 pilasters. The entablature is crowned by 140 statues of saints and great coats of arms of Alexander VII . At the bottom right of the porch is the Bronze Door of the Vatican Palace .
At the center of the square , between two great fountains, stands an obelisk without hieroglyphics 25.50 meters high , resting on the backs of four bronze lions , due to Prospero Antichi, at the corners of the high pedestal .
At the top, where the bronze emblem with the mountains and the star of the Chigi , is contained a relic of the Cross of Christ, the top of the cross is about on 41 feet tall. The Egyptian obelisk of Ramses II , comes from Heliopolis where carried by Caligula in 37 to adorn the Circus of Nero. In 1586, Pope Sixtus V had transport to its current site by Domenico Fontana : He used 44 winches, 900 workers and 140 horses. This work, that required exceptional skill, was finished in 1586. A famous anecdote which , in absolute silence , while the strings were pulled to raise the obelisk , they began to creak so a Ligurian sailor yelled, " water to the ropes" receiving from the Pope, who had escaped the danger, a reward.
"Where there is an obelisk there must be a square" they say, but the square will be realized after 70 years when in 1656 Bernini invented the great ellipse similar to two arms that "welcome Catholics to confirm them in the faith , heretics for bring them together to the Church, to enlighten the infidels ." To make the most effective his idea Bernini builds the colonnade in order to achieve optical effects . By walking to the left seems to be in motion. Looking at it from the center of the square, at the point indicated by a circular stone near the obelisk, the colonnade seems to consist of a single row of columns. The two 14-meter high fountains (one on the right was built in 1613 by Carlo Maderno at the behest of Paul V. The other in 1677 by Carlo Fontana) , launch high jets of water falling on huge monolithic eastern granite basins. The Square is accessed by Via della Conciliazione, designed by Marcello Piacentini and Attilio Spaccarelli as monumental entrance . The placement of obelisks - lamps in 1950 marked the conclusion of this discussed realization, which in its name was sacrificed the fabric of the medieval and renaissance villages . It retains some stretch in Pio village Vittorio village with the Leonine walls . There is no place in the world to more easily combine form and function. From the stage of the Basilica , the Pope appears to bless the audience of the faithful. From the square you enter the Basilica for spectators to become actors of the Faith.