Nearly 2000 years ago, this area was the site of NeroŐs Circus – a huge Roman chariot racecourse. The obelisk in the center is where chariots made their hairpin turns. Here Christians were fed to wild animals, burned or crucfied (not in the Coleseum as is often thought). Peter was crucified here upside down in about AD 65. His remains were buried in a cemetery nearby. More on this later.


The square was designed by Bernini with a ring of double columns in an open arms shape symbolically welcoming believers and non-believers.