Piazza Navona, Rome - The Traveller


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Piazza Navona, Rome


Piazza Navona - Famous/Beautiful Squares of Rome

Piazza Navona is one of the most famous and beautiful of Rome’s several squares. It was built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian during the 1st century AD which follows the form of an open space of the stadium, built by Emperor Domitian. The stadium that has a larger arena than the Colosseum was used mainly for sporting events and festivals. The huge and lively square features not less than three amazing fountains.

Piazza Navona has two other fountains. Towards the southern area is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons which are sculpted by Giacomo della Porta in 1575 to which Bernini added a statue of a Moor or African wrestling with a dolphin in 1673. At the northern part is the Fountain of Neptune – 1574 which was also created by Giacomo della Porta and in 1878, the statue of Neptune surrounded by sea nymphs,sculpted by Antonia Della Bitta had been added in order to create a balance with La Fontana del Moro.Another interesting feature is the Baroque church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.

The front portico of the Baroque church had been designed by Borromini, the rival of Bernini. Construction began two years after the completion of Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers in front of the building and was completed in 1670.

Circus Agonalis/Competition Arena

Piazza Navona is located in the historic centre of Rome towards the west of Panteheon and is one of Rome’s active squares having several outdoor cafes, night clubs and restaurants in the neighbourhood.Ancient Romans visiting this place to watch the agones or games due to which it was known as `Circus Agonalis or a competition arena.

It is said that over a period of time, the name was changed from avone to navone and ultimately to navona. Towards the southwest area of the piazza one will find an ancient `speaking’ statue of Pasquino which was constructed in 1501 where the Romans could leave derogatory social commentary close to the statue. Throughout history, the piazza had held theatrical events as well as other ephemeral activities.

When the festival was curbed, from 1652 till 1866, it got flooded on each Saturday and Sunday in August in elegant celebrations of the Pamphili family. The pavement level had been raised in the 19th century and the market was moved to the nearby Camp de Fiori in 1869. A Christmas market was also held in the piazza.

Attraction of Piazza Navona – Three Fountains

The attraction of Piazza Navona is the three fountains which beautify the square. The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi – Fountain of the Four Rivers, is the central and the largest Fountain which was built on the request of Pope Innocent X, between 1647 and 1651.

 The design of the fountain had been commissioned to Borromini though it was eventually offered to his rival Bernini. The fountain is said to feature four figures where each tend to represent a river from a different continent namely, the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata and the statues are placed at the base of a rock that supports an obelisk, which was initially located at the Circus of Maxentius towards the Appian Way.

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