362 IV. Right Bank. ROME. o. San Pietro
alone cost 88,000 scudi. The effect is striking, and the piazza
forms a fitting approach to the largest church in Christendom.
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, where it stood upon the 'spina'
(comp. p. 355). It is the only monument of the kind in Rome which
has never been overthrown.
Under Sixtus V. in 1586 the obelisk was removed on rollers from its
originai position, and erected on its present site under the superintendence
of Domenico Fontana, who estimated its weight at about 320 tons. Re-
presentations of this extremely difficult undertaking are frequently seen.
It is related that Fontana in the construction of his apparatus had
omitted to allow for the tension of the ropes produced by the enormous
weight, and that at the most criticai moment, although silence was im-
posed on the bystanders under pain of death, one of the 800 workmen,
the sailorBresca of San Remo, shouted : 'Acqua alle funi!' (water on the
ropes), thus solving the difficulty. As a reward, his relatives (of Bordighera,
near San Remo) were granted the privilege of providing the palm-branches
for St. Peter's on Palm Sunday.
On the pavement round the obelisk is placed an indicator of the
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 XI. On each side, between the obelisk and
the fountains, is a round slab of stone indicating the foci of the
radii of the colonnades, whence each series of columns appears 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. 370), and were replaced under
Pius IX. by works of De Fabris and Tadolini.
At the end of the colonnade to the right is the Portone di
Bronzo, the entrance to the Vatican, where the Swiss guard is
stationed (p. 374).
b. **St. Peter's (San Pietro in Vaticano).
The Church of St. Peter was founded by the Emperor Con¬
stantine at the request of Pope Sylvester I. over the grave of the
Apostle Peter beside the Circus of Nero. It was consecrated in
326 (p. xxxv) and was frequently enlarged and embellished in the
following centuries. The church had the form of a basilica with
nave, doublé aisles, transept, and an entrance-court with colon¬
nades, and was surrounded with smaller churches, chapels, and
monasteries. But how much of the extensive structure, with its
sumptuous interior decorations of gold, mosaics, and marble, dated
from the period of Constantine, and how much from the end of the
4th and the 5th cent., it is impossible to say. At Christmas, in the
year 800, Charlemagne received here the Roman imperiai crown
from the hands of Leo III., and numerous emperors and popes were
subsequently crowned here.