Piazza of St. Peter's
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Architect Bernini
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Location Vatican City, surrounded by Rome, Italy   map
Date 1656 to 1667   timeline
Building Type piazza, outdoor plaza, urban open space
 Construction System bearing masonry, cut stone
Climate mediterranean
Context urban
Style Baroque Neoclassical
Notes Piazza Di Pietra. Piazza of Saint Peter's. Space defined by curving colonnades. Elliptical plan with central obelisk. See also St. Peter's of Rome.


Photo, axial overview, looking over and across

Photo, eye-level looking across

Inside colonnade, north side, from east




Plan Drawing

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Discussion Piazza of St. Peter's Commentary

"The Piazza of St Peter's was built by Bernini for Pope Alexander VII in 1656-67. It was conceived as a grand approach to the church but had to be planned so that the greatest number of people could see the Pope give his blessing, either from the middle of the faŤade of the church or from a window in the Vatican Palace."

— John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. p175.

"Four rows of simple and majestic Doric columns—300 all together—carved from Roman travertine form an oval 650 feet across the long axis marked by three monuments: laterally by fountains propelling tall jets of water and in the center by an Egyptian obelisk that had served as a turning post in the chariot races at the ancient Circus of Nero. As they enter the piazza, the faithful are embraced by "the motherly arms of the church," Bernini's own description of his Colonnade. The Colonnade becomes simultaneously a dramatic frame for the church, a nurturing enclosure for the crowds of faithful, and a stage for the processions and other sacred spectacles on which, at this particular period, the Catholic Church so strongly depended for its appeal."

— Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p343.

Sources on Piazza of St. Peter's

Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1537.004. PCD.2260.1012.1537.001

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection.

Christian Norberg-Schulz. Baroque Architecture. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1986. ISBN 08478-0693-6. LC 85-30011. NA590.N6. project for the third arm perspective drawing, f27, p27. diagrammatic final solution drawing, f26, p27. plan drawing, f25, p27.

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers, 1975. ISBN 0-394-49887-9. NA200.G76. photo, p175. Reprint edition: Da Capo Press, April 1991. ISBN 0-3068-0436-0. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at Amazon.com

Alene Stickles, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, July 1993. PCD.2365.1012.0634.056, View within colonade. PCD.2365.1012.0634.054. PCD.2365.1012.0634.052, View from the dome of St. Peter's.

Duane Siegrist, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, July 1993. PCD.3236.1011.0837.021.

Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture, from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1986. ISBN 0-13-044702-1. NA200.T7. p343. — available at Amazon.com

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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