Saint Peter's Square 3D tour

The magnificent Vatican Square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

Click ‘Start Tour’ to begin the unique 3D replica tour of St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, Rome on your computer or iPad - free!

3D Virtual Tour of Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City

Saint Peter's Square 3D

Where the Pope Meets the Masses

Visit the site where Popes have been blessing the world for centuries from home! Take a 3D virtual tour of the Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City as never seen before! Follow the guided tour or navigate yourself and explore one of the holiest sites in Catholicism.

Explore & learn about the story of the St. Peter’s Square – its function as the connection between the Popes and the masses and its incredible architecture designed by Bernini :

  • St. Peter’s Square —site of Pope’s blessing and mass to the world.
  • The Obelisk —The 4000 year old Egyptian monument standing at the center of St. Peter’s Square.
  • The Colonnades—Symbolizing the embracing arms of the Catholic Church.

Walk around freely, learn and experience this site which is fundamental in human history, art, and faith.

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Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City

St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City

Background & History

St. Peter's square, often referred to as the ‘Vatican Square’, is located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. St. Peter's square houses many events of great importance to the Catholic Church and it is here that countless Catholics gather to hold important masses during different events such as Easter Mass and the election of the New Pope – where hundreds of thousands await to see the white smoke rise from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney. It is at St. Peters Square where the newly elected Pope Francis II appeared to the public for the first time in 2013.

St. Peter's square was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and was constructed from 1656 to 1667 under the direction of Pope Alexander VII. The Pope commissioned Bernini with the intent to create a square big enough to accommodate hundreds of thousands of worshippers while enabling all to see the Pope as he gives his blessings. Bernini designed an elliptical shaped square - 196 meters long and 240 meters wide.

Each side of St. Peter’s Square include 4 rows of semi-circled columns, 20 meters high and 1/6 meters in diameter, known as colonnades which represent the embracing motherly arms of the Catholic Church. 140 statues adorn the top of the colonnades and were created by Bernini and his students a span of 40 years. The statues above the colonnades depict various evangelists, popes, martyrs and religious figures. St. Peter’s square can hold over 300 thousand people and often these numbers can be seen in St. Peter’s Square during special occasions like Easter celebrations or the Pope’s election.

The ancient Egyptian obelisk at the center of Saint Peter’s Square is made of red granite and it is 25.5 m tall. AT the base of the Obelisk is a statue of bronze lions raising the obelisk 41 meters high. The Vatican obelisk originally stood at Heliopolis in Egypt between 2494 BC and 2345 BC and was placed there by an unknown pharaoh of the Fifth dynasty of Egypt. By 2010, the Vatican obelisk had been moved 3 times. It is only the Vatican obelisk in Rome that has not been pulled down or fallen since early Roman times. The designer of the St. Peter's square did not influence in any manner the erection of the Vatican obelisk but he used it as the centerpiece of his outstanding piazza. On the right side of the Vatican obelisk is a fountain which was designed by Carlo Moderno in 1613. Bernini also decided to install another identical fountain on the left side of the Vatican obelisk for symmetry. This second fountain was designed by Carlo Fontana in 1677.

Access to the Vatican square has also been made easier and security at St. Peter's square is always strict. Climbing to the top of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica offers the most spectacular view of St. Peter’s Square.

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Learn about Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican with 3D Virtual Tour

Inside Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City

Where Hundreds of Thousands come to See the Pope & the Holy See

Station 1 – the Square

Rich in history, architecture and art, Saint Peter’s Square inspires awe and reverence in those who come to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

The impressive elliptical plaza was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1656. Bernini was commissioned by Pope Alexander VII to build a square that would enable huge crowds to see the Pope and receive his blessing. Over 350,000 people may fill the square during special occasions such as Easter Mass and the Papal Conclave, when a new pope is elected.

The ground of the square is paved with Cobblestones and is divided into 8 triangular shaped sections by travertine lines. Circular stones were added around the obelisk in 1817 turning St. Peter’s square into a huge sundial with the obelisk serving as its gnomon.

Station 2 – the Obelisk

At the center of the square stands a 25.5 meter tall ancient Egyptian obelisk, 41 meters high including its added base. This obelisk is over 4000 years old and was brought to Rome from Alexandria by Emperor Caligula in 37 AD.

The obelisk was removed from the “Circus of Nero” in Rome and placed at the center of the square under the order of Pope Sixtus V in 1586. The re-erection of the obelisk required a work force of some 900 men and almost 100 horses and took over a year to complete.

On opposite sides of the obelisk are two identical fountains. The fountain on the left, when facing St. Peter’s Basilica, was designed by Carlo Moderno in 1613. The second fountain was added later in 1677 by Bernini who copied Moderno’s fountain as to keep the symmetry of Saint Peter’s Square.

Station 3 – the Colonnades

Encompassing Saint Peter’s Square are two colonnades which were designed by Bernini to symbolize the embracing maternal arms of the Catholic Church. The colonnades are comprised of four rows of columns, each column with 1.5 meters in diameter and 20 meters high.

On the ground, between the obelisk and each fountain, are marble discs marking the geometric “foci” of the elliptical shaped square of St. Peter’s. When standing on these discs, the columns of the colonnades appear perfectly aligned so that only the closest row of columns can be seen – indicating once again the architectural brilliance of Bernini.

Adorning the rooftop of the colonnades are 140 statues of various saints consisting of former popes, martyrs, evangelists and other Christian figures. The statues were created by Bernini and his students over a span of some 40 years.

Station 4 – St. Peter’s Basilica

Regarded as one of the holiest sites in the Catholic faith, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the world. The basilica was erected upon the site traditionally regarded as the burial place of Saint Peter, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ.

Saint Peter is considered to be the first Bishop of Rome and as such the first in the Papal lineage. A statue of St. Peter holding a key stands on the left side of the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica and represents the keys of Heaven which were instilled to him by Jesus, as it is written in Matthew 16:17-19:

“..Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…”

The central balcony on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica is known as the “Loggia of the Blessings” for this is where newly elected popes give their first blessing after "Habemus Papum" is announce, declaring that a new pope has been chosen.

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