Piazza del Popolo in Rome

Piazza del Popolo in Rome

Piazza del Popolo or People’s Square is one of the stunning city squares in Rome. This ellipsoid piazza is surrounded by three churches, it has an Egyptian obelisk in the middle of it and a belvedere that offers an amazing view of the city bellow.

Piazza del Popolo is an enormous and famous city square in Rome. In modern Italian, Piazza del Popolo means “People’s Square”, but it has been suggested that the name is derived from Latin “populus” which stands for a tree family to which belong: poplar, aspen and cottonwood. This may have happened because of trees that were planted near the Imperator Nero’s tomb, placed next to the piazza.
In the center of the square there is an ancient Egyptian obelisk. On the one side of the piazza there are two twin churches built in the 17th century: Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli. On the opposite side there is an ancient Roman gate (which was a part of so called Aurelian Walls, built during the reign of Imperator Aurelian) called Porta Flaminia. This gateway was on the road to north (Via Flaminia), and it was the first thing that would see the travelers from the northern parts of Italy before entering the city. Next to the gate there is Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo, the oldest church on the square that was built on top of the Imperator Nero’s tomb by Pope Pasquale II in 11th century. This church was financed from the pockets of the people of Rome (Italian: “popolo”) which is why it is called “del popolo” meaning - belonging to the people. One of the possible theories is that the whole square got its name from the name of this church.

(!) While standing in the square you’ll notice a belvedere on one side of the piazza called Terazza del Pincio. It is possible to reach it on foot, and it offers the best view of the piazza, a part of Rome and Saint Peters Cathedral. Do not miss it!

Interesting facts

  • Obelisk in the center of the piazza was brought from Egypt by the first Imperator of Rome Augustus in 10 BC. Three sides of this impressive monument were carved in during the reign of Seti I (the Egyptian Pharaoh that ruled between 1290-1279BC) while the forth one was finished during the reign of Ramesses II, his successor. Originally it was placed in Circus Maximus as a symbol of Imperator’s victory in Egypt.
  • The Egyptian obelisk is 23m high, while the whole monument, including the base, is 36m high.
  • For centuries this square was a place for executions, last of which took place in 1826.
  • This square has an area of circa 16,000 square meters and it can host up to 65,000 people.
Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

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