Scala Regia

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Bernini, Scala Regia, 1666
The Scala Regia, or "royal staircase," is part of the formal entrance to the Vatican and connects the Apostolic Palace to St. Peter's Basilica. Commissioned to Bernini for restoration in 1663, it was actually built by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.

Bernini's restoration implemented dynamic methods of creating perspectives by force. By decreasing the colonnaded barrel in width as it moves up the stairs, the entire passageway seems longer - as if it stretches forever. These irregular, converging walls create the illusion of length for a surprisingly short space.

Bernini used many symbols and images to exalt the space, using grand figures to make such a small space something much bigger. On the arch of the stairs, Bernini used magnificent Baroque patterns and placed the coat of arms of Alexander VII flanked by angels.

At the bottom of the stairs, a statue of the emperor Constantine during his moment of conversion is displayed, giving the stairs their "royal" name. On the opposite portico of the stairs, Pope Clement IX installed a statue of Charlemagne as a pendant to Constantine.

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