Rome Piazza Navona
Rome Piazza Navona
Together with Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Navona is the most famous square in Rome. The square's oval shape looks very similar to a race track, in fact this was the location of the Domitian stadium during ancient Roman times, and various competitions took place here. Today, Piazza Navona is visited by tourists mainly for its three wonderful fountains, and for the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. Let’s discover the history, the description, and some useful information about the area of Piazza Navona.
Rome Piazza Navona: Historic Features
The present name of Piazza Navona that was originally called in Agone because of the competitions that took place in it, derives probably from a common pronunciation of the original name “in Agone” that became Nagone and later Navona. The structure of the square was ordered towards the mid 1600's by Pope Innocent X, who was a member of the important Pamphili family. This pope demanded the building the palace of the same name in a competition with the two families of Barberini and Farnese. The main architects of the period engaged a challenge to obtain the job order. In the end the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, erected where the saint’s martyrdom happened, was realized by Borromini, while the main fountain of the square, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, in front of the church, was a work by Bernini. A lot of anecdotes about the two groups’ rivalry, more and less true, have spread, anyway the rivalry between the two artists was resolved in a playful way. In criticism of Borromini’s disciples against a possible static capacity of a hollow structure, Bernini and his fellow workers answered ironically by fastening the group with strong ropes of simple string.
Rome Piazza Navona: Description
Upon entering piazza Navona you will be surely striken by the three wonderful fountains, but the square is full of treasures. First of all the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone and Pamphilj Palace, but the Braschi, Tuccimei, and Lancellotti are equally worthy of note. The Four Rivers Fountain, a work by Bernini, has a central obelisk that belonged to Massentius’ circus. The main sculptures of the fountain represent the great four rivers of the world that were known in the period and were considered the four corners of the earth: the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the Rio de la Plata. The figures are bigger than in reality and the fountain conveys a sense of impressiveness representing all the universe in motion. In fact, beyond the four main figures, there are other sculptures representing animals that emerge from rocky ravines.
The other two fountains of the square are the Moro Fountain, carved by Giacomo della Porta, on the northern side of the square, and the Neptune Fountain, a work by Gregorio Zappalà and Antonio Della Bitta, to the southern side. The latter was originally called “fontana dei Calderai” (braziers’ fountain). In fact, the sculptures that gave name to it, Neptune that fights the octopus and the Nereydes with little angels and sea horses, were added in the XIX century. The church of Sant’Agnese was designed by Girolamo Rainaldi. Borromini changed the initial project increasing the distance between the two towers included in the face conceiving the latter as a concave one that spotlighted the dome. The marvellous Pamphilj Palace, rich in amazing frescos, has been the seat of the Brazilan embassy since 1961.
Rome Piazza Navona: How to GetThere
By public transportation from Termini Station catch the bus number 64 and get off at Vittorio Emanuele/S. A. della Valle stop, that is about 200 meters from Piazza Navona.
By car: piazza Navona is in the old town, in a restricted area, but it is very near to Lungotevere. So if you prefer moving by private means you may park in Lungotevere by Ponte Umberto I, about 300 meters from the square. You can also reach Piazza Navona by a Rome Taxi.
Rome Piazza Navona: What to See
There are a number of interesting monuments to see near Piazza Navona, some of them are the streets themselves. The Pantheon, Palazzo Madama (the seat of the Italian Senate), and the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, with important works by Caravaggio are also in the area immediately surrounding the piazza.
Rome Piazza Navona: Where to Stay
If you want some advice on where to stay near piazza Navona check out our dedicated page Hotel in the Center of Rome or our B&B Rome guide.
Rome Piazza Navona: Where to Eat
After visiting the square you can dine or have lunch at one of the restaurants featured on our dedicated page Restaurants Piazza Navona.
Rome Piazza Navona: What to Do
For some advice on Pubs in Rome see our dedicated page to choose somewhere to have some fun.
More and different things to come in Rome Piazza Navona.
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