Rome’s Piazza Navona is perhaps the most famous and beautiful among the city’s many piazzas. You will truly enjoy the beautiful Roman sunshine as you walk along this scenic and historic baroque masterpiece. The place is also one of the city’s liveliest places, with its outdoor cafes, elegant restaurants, night clubs and local art market.
The Piazza was built on the long ruins of the Stadium of Domitian or Circus Domitianus, where the ancient Romans watched games or agones. Part of the remains of the stadium can be seen when you exit the piazza on the northern part and by turning left. Subsequently, upon the transfer of the city market from Campidoglio the piazza was declared a public space in the latter part of the 15th century.
The Piazza holds important architectural and artistic treasure. Right at the piazza’s heart is the Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s 17th century masterpiece the legendary Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or the Fountain of the Four Rivers. The fountain has a central rocky structure and an obelisk. It is also surrounded by four gigantic statues made by Bernini’s pupils and it represents the Nile, Danube, Ganges and Rio della Plata rivers.
Commissioned by Pope Innocent X, the Church of Sant’ Agnese in Agone, was first designed by Girolamo Rainaldi in 1652. Meanwhile, Baroque architect Francesco Borromini designed the concave façade and he also changed the distance of the two bell towers. It is located on the western part of the piazza and is believed to be in the same location where Agnese was martyred for refusing to marry a pagan.
Another Rainaldi creation is also located in the piazza, the Palazzo Pamphili, the home of the powerful Pamphili family which includes Cardinal Giambattista Pamphili, later known as Pope innocent X. The Palazzo also houses the Pietro da Cortona frescoes. From the 1920s, the palace housed the Brazilian Embassy in Italy and subsequently in 1964; it became the property of the government of Brazil.
The piazza’s other fountains includes the Giacomo della Porta’s Fontana del Moro on the southern part, where Bernini added a Moor statue in 1673. The other fountain is on the northern part, another della Porta creation, the Fountain of Neptune; additional work was made by Antonio della Bitta in 1878 to complement the Bernini addition to the other fountain. The 16th century “speaking statue” of Pasquino is located on the southwestern part of the piazza. Here, the Romans can leave social comments attached to statue, a tradition which dates back to early 16th century. Other places of interest includes: Palazzo de Cupis, Palazzo Torres Massimo Lancelotti, Palazzo Braschi and the Church of Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore.
The Piazza Navona was featured both in the book and film adaptation of Angels and Demons, the 1970 movie version of Catch 22 and the 1990 film Coins in the Fountains. Go ahead and enjoy the warmth sunshine as you stroll in the scenic Piazza Navona and its vibrant street life.