The architectural wonders of Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona (c) Nicola Forenza,
Piazza Navona (c) Nicola Forenza,
In Piazza Navona, one of the most beautiful squares in Rome, every corner hides an unmissable artistical or architectural masterpiece.

This Baroque jewel of architecture holds countless works of artists known all over the world. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, as commissioned by Pope Innocent X, built the Fountain of the Four Rivers and designed the Fountain of the Moor, later built following his original project. Whereas the Fountain of Neptune – the third of the square – is a work of Giacomo della Porta.

Piazza Navona is also bordered by buildings which mark the perimeter of the ancient Domitian Stadium of 86 AD.

In the middle of the 17th century, the square was destined to celebrate the greatness of the Pamphili family: Pope Innocent X entrusted architect Francesco Borromini – a great rival of Bernini – with the task of designing the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone and the majestic Palazzo Pamphili, where the frescoes by Pietro da Cortona are located.

Fun fact: the shape of Piazza Navona – slightly sloping down towards the centre and with its several side streets – made it possible over the centuries for it to host fairs, games and sporting events. During the summer months it was flooded with water from the fountains so that it could house water games – some of which recall the famous naval battles of the Roman era.

Today the square is surrounded by bars and restaurants, and besides being one of the main destinations for tourists visiting the capital it is a meeting place for many street artists and painters that sell their art. It also hosts a very picturesque traditional Christmas market also called “Mercato della Befana”.

During your stay in Rome you cannot certainly miss it!