Piazza Navona in Rome

Piazza Navona in Rome

It is one of the most well-known city squares in the city. This piazza is a testimonial of all the historical changes that happened in the city. It went through many transformations, from the ancient roman stadium to one of the most visited touristic sites of the city.

It is one of the most famous city squares in Rome. It was build on the grounds of the ancient stadium of Domitian constructed in 86 AD. The stadium was dedicated exclusively to Greek athletic games, which the imperator held in high esteem, but was not appreciated much by Romans who considered them immoral.
It is believed that the square got its name from “in Agone” (Greek, agones-games) which evolved into “innagone”, “navone” and finally Navona.
There are three fountains on the piazza: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fontana del Nettuno.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
It is the largest fountain on the piazza in the middle of the square. It was constructed in 1651 and designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. On top of the fountain there is Obelisk of Domitian (Roman emperor) 16,54 meters high, which was taken from the Circus of Maxentius and placed here as a wish of Pope Innocent X. In this period the piazza was transformed in one of the most significant examples of the Roman Baroque style architecture. One of the reasons for this is that the piazza was in front of Palazzo Pamphili, the palace of the Pope’s family (which still stands next to the square).

Fontana del Moro (Fountain of the Moor)
This fountain is located on the southern part of the square. It was built in 1575, sculpted by Giacomo della Porta depicting four Tritons. In 1673, a sculpture was added by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, showing Moor wrestling with a dolphin.

Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of the Neptune)
This fountain is located in the northern part of the square. It was constructed in 1574 by Giacomo della Porta. The sculpture of Neptune was added in 1878 in order to make this fountain more symmetrical to the Fountain of Moor.

Interesting facts

  • The ancient stadium of Domitian was 276 meters long and 106 wide and it could host 30,000 people.
  • Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the four rivers) represents 4 rivers: Danube, Nile, River Plate and Ganges, rivers of the four corners of the world.
  • The funds needed for the construction of the Fountain of the four rivers came from the taxes on bread, wine and other products.
  • The piazza had a concave shape, and after it was inaugurated in 1652 in the month of August it would be filled with water for the amusement purpose and to make this hot month more pleasant. So the piazza got its new nickname “il Lago di Piazza Navona” which means the lake of Piazza Navona. This tradition continued for two centuries until it was suspended in 1866under Pope Pio IX.
Photo by Daniel Zbroja on Unsplash

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