Piazza Navona

Defined during the fifteenth century, the Baroque-style Piazza Navona is one of the most charming and popular squares in Rome. The public square is built on the site where the Stadium of Domitian once stood. The stadium, founded in 86 AD for Romans to watch “agones” or games, and hence known as the “Circus Agonalis,” could hold approximately 20,000 spectators.

The most beautiful parts of Piazza Navona are its three fountains, designed during the papacy of Gregory XIII:
1. Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers): Located in the centre of Piazza Navona, this fountain was designed by Bernini in 1651. The four statues represent the most important rivers of the continents where Christianity had spread; the Nile, Danube, Ganges and Rio de la Plata.
2. Fontana del Moro: Located on the southern side of the square, this fountain was sculpted by Giacomo della Porta and later perfected by Bernini, who added the figure of the Moor. It was initially called the “Seashell Fountain.”
3. Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune): This fountain was also created by Giacomo della Porta in 1574, but remained unfinished for approximately three-hundred years, until 1878, when it was decorated by Antonio Della Bitta and Gregorio Zappalà.

In addition to the three fountains, there is an obelisk measuring 52 ft (16 m), in the middle of the square. The obelisk had originally been part of the Circus of Maxentius, found in the Appian Way Regional Park. There also two imposing buildings that look onto the square, the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone and the Palazzo Pamphilj, once the home of Cardinal Giambattista Pamphilj, who in 1644 become Pope Innocent X.

Piazza Navona is surrounded by restaurants and terraces giving it a lively and delightful atmosphere during the day. Several street artists like magicians and dancers can be found performing in the piazza.


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