Located in the Vatican City is the great “Piazza di San Pietro”, in English St. Peter’s Square and also known as the Vatican Square. The “Piazza di San Pietro” serves as a prelude to the main temple of the Catholic religion, the Papal Basilica of St. Peter.
The “Piazza di San Pietro” was originally built on what was the “Nero’s Circus” becoming the “Straight Via” or “Via Aleesandrina “. It extended from the “Sant’Angelo” Bridge ending at the gate of the Vatican Palace.
An Egyptian Obelisk within the “Nero’s Circus” was the silent witness of the crucifixion of Simon Peter, his body being buried on the outskirts of the circus, but within its vicinity. The Obelisk was relocated to the center of the “Piazza di San Petro” in 1586. In time, these events contributed to the construction of the first “Basilica di San Pietro” on the spot where allegedly Saint Peter’s remains were found. This was done by orders of the Roman Emperor, Constantine.
“Piazza di San Pietro” changes its rectangular shape in the 17th century at the hands of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, being converted to today’s oval shape. According to Bernini, the portico should be shown as if they were “open arms” to receive faithful, sinners and non-believers, all welcomed equally in the Papal Basilica.
The “Piazza di San Pietro” fulfills the function of creating the Papal Basilica as a focal point, without obstructing in any way the window of the Pope’s residence, from whence the Pope appears and grants his blessings.