A Walk to St. Peter’s Square: The Vatican Part 1… Armchair Travel

Today we will visit St. Peter’s Square as part of my armchair travel series for the Age of Coronavirus. This is based on a post I did in 2015 after a visit to Rome.

Cloudy skies provide a colorful backdrop for St. Peter’s Basilica with its magnificent dome designed by Michelangelo. This photo is taken while standing in St. Peters Square. Look closely, and you will see ant-like people waiting to enter. Our turn would come.

Our hotel in Rome, the Giulio Cesare, was within a mile of the Vatican. We walked over twice, getting mildly lost both times. It didn’t matter. Rome is chock-full of fascinating architecture and tantalizing history.

The first time we went via the Tiber River, passing by the Castle St. Angelo and its neighboring bridge, the Pont St. Angelo. Eventually this brought us to the broad avenue leading up to St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. Mussolini built the avenue to provide visitors with a better view of the church. He also gave the 100-acre Vatican its independent nation status. Today the Vatican serves as the religious center for some one billion Catholics.

The Victor Immanuel Bridge reflected in the Tiber River of Rome.
Peggy, her brother John and his wife Frances stand in front of the Tiber River and the Pont St. Angelo (the Bridge of Angels). The bridge was once the Bridge of Emperor Hadrian and dates from the Roman Empire.
Pont St. Angelo received its name during the Renaissance when Bernini oversaw a project to line the bridge with angels reminding the faithful of Christ’s crucifixion. This one carries a lance representing the spear used by a Roman soldier to jab Christ in the side.
The rounded Castle St. Angelo stands next to the bridge. Built originally as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, it would later become a prison and then fort. Today it serves as a museum. St. Michael stands on top of the castle with sword drawn to fight off the plague.Hmmm, I wonder if he would take on Covid-19? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
A view of St. Peter’s Square featuring a portion of Bernini’s Colonnade. Statues of 10 foot tall saints line the top.
Another perspective of St. Peter’s Square. This is taken from the Basilica looking back. The boulevard built by Mussolini is in the distance. Bernini’s Colonnade opens out, welcoming the faithful.
This obelisk, seen in the previous picture, dominates St. Peter’s Square. Once upon a time it resided in Egypt, but its home in Rome predates that of the Vatican when it stood over Nero’s race track where Christians were persecuted and Peter was crucified upside down.
The top of St. Peter’s Basilica, like Bellini’s Colonnade, features saints. The saint on the left is Simon the Zealot. You can tell your saints by the tools they carry. Simon was a carpenter and is shown with his saw. Simon was called the Zealot because he left his wife and kids to follow Jesus. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)
This lamp from St. Peter’s Square is here because I like it. You’ll see it peeking out on the left hand corner of St. Peter’s Basilica at the beginning of this blog.
I took this photo of the massive columns in front of St. Peter’s Basilica because I felt they provided an interesting perspective on the size of the church. We will be visiting the Basilica in my next post.
No blog on the Vatican would be complete without showing the changing of the Swiss Guard carrying pikes. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

20 thoughts on “A Walk to St. Peter’s Square: The Vatican Part 1… Armchair Travel

  1. Love your photos in this one. We were just there last November, and, although I had been to St. Peter’s Square once before, I still got chills. After all, this is the VATICAN! I love this area — architecture, statuary, art — and all the big spaces that must seem pretty cramped when the pope is speaking. Thanks again for reminding how special this area is.

  2. Curt, thank you for this beautiful and enlightening post. Among the stunning photos you tell the most interesting historical vignettes.
    There are too many to mention here, but I was surprised that Mussolini was the one who gave the Vatican an independent status.
    Didn’t know about the grim end of St. Peter …

    I agree, the lamps are beautiful.


    • Thanks, Miriam. There is so much history and beauty in Rome, it deserved much more time than we had to spend there. And I am a fan of unique lamps, of which there were plenty! 🙂 –Curt

  3. It’s amazing, all this grand architecture, a bridge that dates back to the Roman Empire and it all still stands. Yesterday we has a bridge start crumbling that was built in 1996. That saying, They just don’t build them like that any more”, sure suits this post!!

  4. Thanks. I’ve been to Italy a couple of times, but never to the Vatican. My dad visited there in 1947 and had an audience with Pope Pius XII. And we aren’t Catholic.

    • Wow, an audience with the Pope. What did he do to achieve that, Peggy? Bone was blessed by the Pope, along with umpteen thousand Catholics once in St. Peter’s Square, but I wasn’t along on that trip. 🙂 –Curt

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