Majestic and elegant, Piazza Navona is one of the most famous squares in the world for its architectural uniqueness: a real living room en plein air. A real open-air lounge that hosts hundreds of tourists in its bars and restaurants every day who prefer it for a Renaissance break.
A curiosity: it is said that right here the artists Bernini and Borromini have left a mark of their rivalry. The statue of the Bernini fountain representing the Rio de la Plata river has one arm raised to shelter itself from the imminent collapse of Palazzo Pamphili, built by Borromini. It is one of the many Roman legends, who knows the thruth?
If Campo de ‘Fiori was nothing but a meadow until 1400, Piazza Navona has its roots long ago.
In fact, as early as 85 AD, the Roman emperor Domitian had the stadium of the same name built there, capable of hosting up to 30,000 spectators. The name of the square was originally “in Agone” (from the Latin in agonis, “games”) since the stadium was used only and exclusively for athletics competitions. In ancient times the square was concave, the closures of the three fountains were blocked and the water came out in order to flood the square.
The playful use of the area continued until the late Renaissance, when it still appears to be used for training and games of chivalry. In this short interval the ownership of the Circus Agonis is divided between private owners and ecclesiastical bodies.
Today, Piazza Navona is one of the symbols of Baroque Rome, thanks to the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (the Fountain of the Four Rivers in the center of the square, which represents the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile and the Rio della Plata, the four corners of the earth), of the rival Francesco Borromini, of Girolamo Rainaldi (the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, in front of the Bernini fountain) and of Pietro da Cortona (author of the frescoes in the gallery of Palazzo Pamphilj).
To get an idea of how to use your free time during your stay in Rome near Piazza Navona, we have created this summary map.
In the vicinity there are many other places of interest. Take a look at Castel Sant’Angelo!