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10 Facts about Piazza Navona

piazza navona facts

10 Interesting facts about Piazza Navona

Dominitian’s ancient stadium, in the heart of the city, is now adorned with fine Renaissance and Baroque buildings, designed by the most famous architects of the 16C and 17C. The breathtaking magnificence of the piazza was meant to show the authority of Pamphili family, who had their own palace facing the square. The piazza is one of Rome’s liveliest squares, full of tourists, portrait painters, vendors, musicians, mime artists , shops and restaurants.

1 Piazza Navona is considered one of Rome’s most beautiful squares. It displays the genius of Bernini, Boromini and Giacomo della Porta with its three amazing fountains and a church. The fountain of the moor, the Fountain of Neptune and the eye catcher in the middle is the Fountain of the four rivers, which is considered Bernini’s masterpiece. Right across the middle fountain you can find yourself in front of the impressive Sant’ Agnese in Agone Church, designed by Boromini and dedicated to the young Christian virgin Agnese, who was executed at the site of the church, because of her beliefs.

2 In 86 AD Domitian had a stadium built at the site of the square (Stadio di Domiziano). The stadium was used mostly for the athletic purposes, contests of wit and physical fitness. The stadium was a grand edifice, which had a rectangular shape with rounded short sides. It was completely covered in white marble and could seated up to 30,000 people. There are still remains beneath the square. The stadium was paved over in the 15th century and the Piazza Navona was created.

3 The Fountain of the moor or the fontana del Moro, is located in the southern end of the square and takes its name from the group of figures representing an Ethiopian fighting with a dolphin. The work was sculptured in 1654 to a Bernini design. The masks and sculptures of the tritons are copies of the originals which can now be seen in the gardens of the Villa Borghese.

4 The Fountain of Neptune or Fontana del Nettuno , is located at the northern end of the piazza. This fountain was commissioned to Giacomo della Porta in 1574, and as with the Fontana del Moro on the southern end, the material used was Portasanta, which is a rose marble. Della Porta’s designed the two fountains to be similar in appearance, with tritons and large masks, but the project was never completed and for about 300 years the fountain remained undecorated. Finally in 1878, Antonio Della Bitta was commissioned to carve the statue of Neptune slaying a giant octopus, and Gregorio Zappala carved the group of 8 sea figures playing in the basin, two sea horses, two cherubs, two dolphins, and two Nereids or sea nymphs, and so the fountain was renamed, Fountain of Neptune.

5 The Fountain of the four rivers or Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, is the largest of the three fountains standing in piazza Navona. Constructed between 1647 and 1651, the design was first commissioned to Borromini, but was later taken over by Bernini. The fountain consists of four figures, each representing a river, from the four continent, known by those times- Nile (Africa), Ganges (China), Danube (Europe) and Rio della Plata (The Americas). The statues surround an obelisk with the Pamphili’s family symbol, a dove on the top. All three fountains in the Piazza Navona are fed by the Aqua Virgo aqueduct.

6 Erected in the middle of the square stands a gigantic Egyptian obelisk, which is actually a Roman copy, done during the reign of the emperor Domitian. With its impressive height it actually worried the people, concerned about the fountain’s stability.

7 Borromini vs. Bernini saga is legendary and described in many legends. The rumor has it that the positioned in the air hand of Rio della Plata is representing how ugly he thinks the church is and the hand on the chest of Sant Agnes is describing that she is scared from the obelisk to fall down, because is not supported good.

8 The name of the stadium was ‘Circus Agonalis’ (competition arena). Over the time the name changed to ‘in agone’ to ‘navone’ and eventually to ‘navona’. 

9 Pope Innocent X started a tradition of covering the drains of the three fountains on Saturdays and Sundays in the 1600s, to allow people to enjoy the pooled water. It became known as “Lake of Piazza Navona”. This tradition lasted for two centuries until 1866 when Pius IX put an end to the summer fun.

10 Piazza Navona is featured in scenes in the 2000 movie Angels and Demons, and in the 1964 movie Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow it is the setting of the main character’s apartment. It is also featured in the 1970 movie Catch-22, and in the 1990 movie Coins in the Fountain.

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Comments (5)

  • comment_avatar

    desiray a donnell


    i love it


  • comment_avatar

    Grant Comas


    I love the this information!


  • comment_avatar

    Nathanial Duldulao


    I love the this information!


  • comment_avatar

    Adria Parmele


    I like it, give us more!


  • comment_avatar

    Luningning Valmonte


    Very impressive and informative facts. Thumbs up and on a scale of 10😎


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