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Piazza Navona



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Piazza Navona was built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans went there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as "Circus Agonalis" ("competition arena"). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to navone and eventually to navona.
Defined as a public space in the last years of 15th century, when the city market was transferred there from the Campidoglio, Piazza Navona was transformed into a highly significant example of Baroque Roman architecture and art during the pontificate of Innocent X, who reigned from 1644 until 1655, and whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced the piazza. 


It features important sculptural creations: in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius; the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi and others; and the Pamphili palace, also by Girolamo Rainaldi, that accommodates the long gallery designed by Borrominiand frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.

Piazza Navona  has two other fountains. At the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which, in 1673, Bernini added a statue of a Moor, wrestling with a dolphin. At the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune(1574) also created by Giacomo della Porta; the statue of Neptune, by Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to create a balance with La Fontana del Moro.


A short walk nearby Piazza Navona

Walking around Piazza Navona and Relais Rione Ponte,  you will easly discover three marvellous churches located at minutes of walk between them: 

  • Sant'Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona
  • Santa Maria dell'Anima in Via dell'Anima, 64
  • Santa Maria della Pace, in Arco della Pace, 5 ( next to Chiostro del Bramante )

Sant'Agnese in Agone (also called Sant'Agnese in Piazza Navona) is a 17th-century Baroque church which faces onto the Piazza Navona. Its name comes from the Early Christian Saint Agnes who was martyred in the ancient Stadium of Domitian. 

Its construction began in 1652 commissioned by Pope Innocent X, from Pamphilj Family under the architects Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi .During the following years Francesco Borromini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini were also  involved in the construction or decoration by different members of the Pope's family.

Santa Maria dell’Anima, located just behind Piazza Navona, in Via dell'Anima. It was founded in the 14th century as an oratory of the German hospice, it is the national church of the German community in Rome since centuries.
In its interior you will distinguish the Chapel of the Margraves of Brandenburg with the frescoes by Francesco Salviati and a great organo from 1990 and located on the choir in the transept.
Santa Maria della Pace is our 3rd suggestion, another gemm in the rione Ponte. The current building was built on the foundations of the pre-existing church of Sant'Andrea de Aquarizariis in 1482, commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV. It was restored many times during the centuries. The church is aso famous for the Chigi Chapel, with frescoes by Raphael commissioned by the papal banker Agostino Chigi: " Sibyls receiving angelic instruction"  done in 1514. 
A main feature of the church and monastery complex is the Bramante cloister, built in 1500–1504 for Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, by Donato Bramante. Chiostro de Bramante today is a unique place for exhibition, events, coffee shop, workshops. Its current exhibition is “BANKSY, a visual project”, on display until April 11th, 2021.




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