Aerial Images of the Vatican

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  1. Saint Peter’s Square is embraced by Bernini’s Colonnade. The great celebrations and audiences take place in this Square. The Egyptian obelisk that once was part of Nero’s circus, where St. Peter was martyred, has stood in the Square since 1586 and is now adorned with a cross. It was around this monument that Bernini conceived the idea of opening up the vast oval-shaped plaza. Each arm of the quadruple-columned colonnade carries a row of statues facing the crowds of pilgrims. La Via della Conciliazione, which runs from the Tiber River to the Square, was laid out in the 1930s, after the Lateran Accords were signed between Italy and the Vatican.

    Saint Peter’s Square is embraced by Bernini’s Colonnade. The great celebrations and audiences take place in this Squ…

  2. Sculpted by Giuseppe de Fabris, St. Peter’s statue was placed on the left of St. Peter’s Square in 1874, and a statue of St. Paul was placed on the right. In his hand Peter is holding the two keys given by Christ as the sign of Peter’s authority — one key to bind and one to loosen.

    Sculpted by Giuseppe de Fabris, St. Peter’s statue was placed on the left of St. Peter’s Square in 1874, and a statu…

  3. St. Peter’s Basilica stands out in this aerial view of Vatican City. Built over St. Peter’s tomb, the present basilica took the place of the one built by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. Vatican City grew up around the basilica and has been the home of the popes since the 15th century. The private and official apartments of the pope are located in the Apostolic Palace.

    St. Peter’s Basilica stands out in this aerial view of Vatican City. Built over St. Peter’s tomb, the present basili…

  4. The current façade of St. Peter’s is the result of a long succession of designs. Both Michelangelo and Carlo Moderno had a hand in it, but the final design belongs to Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The basilica was constructed in baroque style in the form of a Latin cross and was embellished with a huge dome. The ground around the basilica was not strong enough to hold the two bell towers called for in the plans. The bells are still there, but subtly, at each end of the façade. The statue of Christ is surrounded by statues of John the Baptist and 11 of the disciples. In the center of the façade, under the statue of Christ, is the loggia — where the pope appears on the day of his election and from where he gives his Christmas and Easter blessings for the city and the world.

    The current façade of St. Peter’s is the result of a long succession of designs. Both Michelangelo and Carlo Moderno …

  5. Blessing the crowds of pilgrims, this statue of Christ is almost 19 feet high and stands at the highest level, and at the center, of the façade. Christ carries the sign of his Passion, the cross, which is an equal distance from the cross on the obelisk and the cross on the basilica’s dome. To Christ’s right stands John the Baptizer, dressed in a simple animal skin and looking toward the one for whom he prepared the way.

    Blessing the crowds of pilgrims, this statue of Christ is almost 19 feet high and stands at the highest level, and at th…

  6. At the beginning of the 16th century, Pope Pius IV took over an existing building project in the Vatican Gardens and created this summer house built to his own tastes and style. The villa is composed of four sections, built around an elliptical courtyard paved with marble. On the north side of the house was the principal building with a vestibule and chapel. On the south side the lodge is a splendid building surrounded by water. In later times, the Villa Pia has served as the headquarters of the pontifical academies.

    At the beginning of the 16th century, Pope Pius IV took over an existing building project in the Vatican Gardens and cre…

  7. The gardens extend over 54 acres, half the area of Vatican City. Created in the 13th century by Pope Nicholas III, they include wooded areas and flowerbeds and shrubbery. Each pope has given the gardens his personal touch. Pope Leo XIII even added a reproduction of the Lourdes Grotto. Protected from the city by its high walls, this green space is nestled in the shade of St. Peter’s. Nearly every day at 4PM, Pope Benedict takes a walk in the gardens both to exercise and to relax from his duties.

    The gardens extend over 54 acres, half the area of Vatican City. Created in the 13th century by Pope Nicholas III, they …

  8. An aerial view of St. Peter’s Basilica

    An aerial view of St. Peter’s Basilica…

  9. These photos were taken by Stéphane Compoint, a photographer specializing in aerial views and close-ups using a special balloon-tether-camera rig.

    These photos were taken by Stéphane Compoint, a photographer specializing in aerial views and close-ups using a special…

  10. 1. Art Galleries 2. The Vatican Museums 3. The Apostolic Palace 4. The Sistine Chapel 5. La Via della Conciliazione 6. St. Peter’s Basilica 7. Paul VI papal audience hall 8. St. Martha Guest House 9. The Tribunal Palace 10. The old railway station 11. Administrative palace 12. The Ethiopian College 13. Marconi radio transmission center 14. The tower of St. John 15. The Leonine wall 16. Replica of the grotto of Lourdes 17. Vatican Radio tower

    1. Art Galleries 2. The Vatican Museums 3. The Apostolic Palace 4. The Sistine Chapel 5. La Via della Conciliazione 6. S…