Piazza di S. Pietro. ROME. V. Right Bank. 279
the church of the Frisians, rebuilt in the last century, where the
artist Raphael Mengs is interred.
The ** Piazza di S. Pietro is a square with an elliptical space
in front, enclosed by the imposing colonnades of Bernini. Its length
as far as the portico of the church is 370 yds., and its greatest
breadth 260 yds. Each of the colonnades, which were erected in
1667, contains four series of columns of the Doric order. Three
covered passages, the central of which has space for two carriages
abreast, are formed hy 284 columns and 88 buttresses. On the
roofs are placed 162 statues of saints in Bernini's style. The cost of
the construction amounted to 850,000 scudi; the pavement, laid
down under Benedict XIII., alone cost 88,000 scudi. The effect is
very imposing, and the piazza forms an appropriate adjunct to the
largest church in the world.
The great Obelisk in the centre of the piazza, which is destitute
of hieroglyphics, was brought from Heliopolis to Rome by Caligula
and placed in the Vatican Circus, and is the only monument of the
kind which has never been overthrown.
Under Sixtus V. in 1586 this huge monument, estimated by Fontana to
weigh about 500 tons, was removed by means of rollers from its origi¬
nal position, and on 10th Sept. erected under the superintendence of
Domenico Fontana on its present site. Representations of this extremely
difficult undertaking are frequently seen. It is related that Fontana in the
construction of his machines had omitted to make allowance for the tension
of the ropes produced by the enormous weight, and that at the most criti¬
cal moment, although the bystanders were prohibited under pain of death
from shouting, one of the 800 workmen, the sailor Bresca di S. Rcmo,
exclaimed: 'Acqua alle funi!' (water on the ropes), thus solving the
difficulty. As a reward, his relations (of Bordighera near S. Remo) were
granted the privilege of providing the palm-branches on Palm Sunday for
On the pavement round the obelisk is placed an indicator of tlie
points of the compass. At the sides are two handsome *Fountains,
45 ft. in height, the one next the Vatican erected by Maderna, the
other under Innocent XL On each side, between the obelisk and
the fountains , is a round slab of stone indicating the centres of the
radii of the colonnades, each series of which appears thence as one.
At the sides of the steps leading to the portico of St. Peter's, formerly
stood the statues of SS. Peter and Paul which are now at the
entrance to the Sacristy (p. 286), and were replaced under Pius IX.
by works of De Fabris and Tadolini.
To the right, at the end of the colonnades, is the entrance to
the Vatican, called Portone di Bronzo, where the Swiss guard is
stationed (comp. p. 118).
**S. Pietro in Vaticano.
The Church of St. Peter, like S. Giovanni in Laterano, S. Paolo,
S. Croce, S. Agnese, and S. Lorenzo, is said to have been founded
by the Emp. Constantine on the request of Pope Silvester I. It was
erected in the form of a basilica with nave, double aisles, and tran-