St Peter's Square colonnade restored

Gleaming colonnade ready for canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II

The restoration of the colonnade of St Peter's Square has been completed following a five-year programme of works.

The restoration project covered over 44,000 cubic metres and included the colonnade's 284 massive travertine marble columns and 140 statues of saints, martyrs, popes and religious figures.

The work began in 2008 and cost about €14 million, some of which was contributed by Italian companies such as the telecommunications firm TIM, the oil and gas multinational ENI, and the Banche Popolari Italiane. The restoration was carried out by Rome-based specialist firm Navarra and involved 70 restorers and 30 labourers.

Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the four rows of 20-m high columns represent the embrace of the maternal arms of the Catholic Church. The colonnade was constructed from 1656 to 1667 under the direction of Pope Alexander VII.

The now immaculate St Peter's Square is ready in time for the upcoming canonisation of popes John XXIII and John Paul II on 27 April.