Piazza Navona, Rome

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    Circus, Circus

    by goodfish Updated May 15, 2013

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    Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s great public spaces and one that people have been flocking to for nearly two millennia - although for different reasons. Emperor Domitian built his Circus Agonalis (‘agone' meaning games or competitions) here in 85 AD: a giant stadium that would hold 15-20,000 people and which was occasionally flooded, like the Colosseum, for mock aquatic battles. In the 15th century the ruin, long left to deteriorate after the fall of the empire and looted for its marble and stone, became a marketplace, and a grand rebuilding plan added palaces and churches to its perimeter in the 17th. Three splashing fountains were commission for the center, their drains plugged on hot summer days to overflow and fill the square with cool water for the enjoyment and relief of citizens and their 4-legged friends.

    The marketplace was moved to Campo de Fiori in the 1800’s and today this beloved of Rome’s public ‘living rooms’ is ringed with trattorias and shops and buzzing with artisans, musicians, tourists, locals, and vendors hawking goods of dubious quality. Circus Agonalis may be long gone but the square retains the distinctive oval shape of the arena and vestiges of its name: Navona is an evolution of ‘in agone’.

    Sant’Agnese (St. Agnes) in Agone towers over the west central side of the piazza: a 17th-century baroque church with the fingerprints of Borromini, Bernini and several other architects in its design. It harbors the grisly skull of a virginal, 4th-century martyr - who stubbornly survived burning first - thought to have been beheaded in the square. There are said to be ruins of the old circus under its foundations but we’ve never found the doors unlocked.

    The fountains? Still splashing merrily away with Bernini’s gorgeous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) taking center stage. It’s crowned with a obelisk old Domitian had made and shipped from Egypt for a temple complex in Campus Martius and which later ended up in Maxentius’ circus out on the Appia Antica. Some 1000 years hence, Bernini collected the broken bits and pasted them together again for his masterpiece. This bit of efficient recycling was probably a good move as the thing had been commissioned by Pope Innocent X during a time of severe economic stress: his flock were pretty cranky about spending money on fountains.

    Grab a gelato and a bench….

    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/beni-culturali/beni-architettonici-e-storici/piazza-navona.html

    Note: the ULR below links to a nice shot of the piazza from above so you can see the shape.

    http://tinyurl.com/975df9v

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    Church of Sant'Ivo, Interior

    by von.otter Updated Jan 29, 2013

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    Church of Sant'Ivo, Interior, Rome, May 2007
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    St Ives, when you lived among us
    You were the advocate of the poor
    The defender of widows and orphans,
    Provider for all the needy.

    Listen today to our prayer!

    Help us to love justice as you loved it!
    Help us to know how to defend our rights
    Without prejudice to others,
    In seeking above all reconciliation and peace.
    Rouse up defenders to plead the cause of the oppressed
    So that “justice may be done in love.”

    St Ives, pray for us!

    Pray for those whom we love!
    Pray for those whom we find it difficult to love!

    The Church of St. Yves of Brittany at Palazzo della Sapienza (Italian: Chiesa di Sant'Ivo alla Palazzo della Sapienza, house of knowledge) was designed by Francesco Borromini (1599-1667). A hallmark of Boromini’s designs is the absence of color, on the interior and exterior. That does not mean these churches are dull. Alternating concave and convex surfaces carry the eye around the centralized nave. The structure of the geometry of the church is a symmetric six-pointed star.

    Stars and putti decorate the dome (see photo #1), as well as the coat-of-arms of Pope Alexander VII, a member of the powerful banking Chigi family, six mountains beneath a star (see photo #2). The altarpiece (see photo #4) is by Pietro da Cortona, portraying St. Yves.

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    Navona Square

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 5, 2013

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    Christmas Market.
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    This busy square hosts a Christmas market during the festive season. There is a central fountain depicting the four rivers. Personally I thought it was rather hideous. I did however like the smaller fountains at either end of the square. There is also a large church here - the Church of St Agnes. On this occasion we did not go inside.

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    Rome's Living Room

    by solopes Updated Sep 5, 2012

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    Everybody meets in Piazza Navone.

    A masterpiece of baroque, this place with the shape of a roman stadium, is dominated by the three fountains, with evidence to the Fontana dei Fiume.

    The permanent crowds, the stalls, the street performers, make this place one of the liveliest in Rome.

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    06-The Best Place to Laze - Piazza Navona

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Sep 3, 2012

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    The Piazza Navona is a good 20-minutes walk from the Spanish Steps. You enter it from an alley and suddenly the wide, spacious city centre hits you in the face. Your first impression is of a stadium and that was what it was earlier. It covers the area where Rome's first stadium was built (81 to 96 AD) by Emperor Domitian. It was then known as Circus Agonalis or an area set aside for competitions where ‘Agones’ or competitions were held in honour of Jove. Over the years, the name was shortened to 'in Agona' and then finally, 'Navona'. It was Pope Innocent X who revamped this piazza by erecting the Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi in the centre and flanking it by restoring the two fountains, one on either side of the piazza.

    This area, like other areas in Rome, is vehicle-free. So you have a huge place in which to stroll, ‘people watch’, get your caricature sketched, stop at any of the numerous cafes for a lazy coffee or an equally leisurely lunch. We had packed out hamper, so we selected a shady spot, spread our food and wine and then proceed to do full justice to a morning well spent. It is in the evenings, however, that this place comes alive with street performers, music and the parade of life.

    The imposing fountain of the Four Rivers dominates the centre of the piazza and that is where your gaze is immediately drawn. The four giant figures are representative of the four mighty rivers known at that point in world history: the Rio de la Plata of the Americas, the Ganges of Asia, the Nile of Africa (veiled head statue as the source of the river had not been discovered till then) and Danube of Europe. Seven animals adorn the fountain - crocodile, dolphin, dragon, horse, lion, sea monster and a serpent. A dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, sits atop the huge obelisk rising from the centre of the fountain and is a reminder of the Pope who commissioned the work.

    The two fountains, one on either end of the piazza, were built by Giacomo della Porta. One is the Fountain of the Moor (owing to the statue with African features) while the other is the Fountain of Neptune. The two together add harmony and balance to the piazza with the main fountain in the centre.

    The church, Sant'Agnese in Agone, designed by Borromini, sits right in front of the fountain. It was built much after the fountain. So don’t be misled by the apocryphal story of the figure facing the Church raising its hand for fear that the structure would fall on him.

    Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do near the fountains as there are security cameras around. Check this out:

    “In the early hours of Saturday, 3rd September 2011, the Fontana del Moro was damaged by a vandal. Police later found the man, who had been captured on security cameras climbing in the fountain, wielding a large rock and decapitating some of the larger and smaller figures, after they recognised him by his sneakers.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_Navona)

    First Written: Sep. 3, 2012

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    Palazzo Braschi, the City Museum, Part IV

    by von.otter Updated Aug 5, 2012

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    Palazzo Braschi, Roma, May 2007
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    “Civis Romanus sum” (I am a Roman citizen)
    — Cicero (106BC - 43 BC)

    Palazzo Braschi owns a splendid collection of 2,000 pieces of pottery from Ancient Rome and several more thousand pieces of Roman ceramics dating from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. During our visit a marvelous exhibit of majolica ware (see photos #3 & #4) was the highlighted show.

    Rome being the seat of the popes, much of what is on display has to do with the Holy Fathers and their families, especially those grand pontiffs of the Renaissance. Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644, his ponticate lasted from 1623 to 1644). Born a member of the Barberini family, Mateo, his given name, was a great patron of the arts. One project he collaborated on with Gianlorenzo Bernini was the great bronze baldacchino in St. Peter’s Basilica. An engraving of the baldacchino (see photo #5) is on display at Palazzo Braschi.

    An English audio guide is available for hire; take note, the museum’s captions is only in Italian.

    The foot print of Palazzo Braschi in the shape of a trapezoid. The longest side extends between Piazza Pasquino and Piazza Navona; and the shortest side faces Piazza San Pantaleo, where the entrance is.

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    Palazzo Braschi, the City Museum, Part III

    by von.otter Written Aug 5, 2012
    Palazzo Braschi, Roma, May 2007
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    %t“Wealth conquered Rome after Rome had conquered the world”
    — Italian Proverb

    Palazzo Braschi, a lavish palazzo overlooking Piazza Navona, houses Museo di Roma .

    This extensive collection, dedicated to the history of the Eternal City from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century, cannot be display in its entirety. Only a fraction of its drawings, paintings, sculptures, frescoes, costumes and more is on display at any one time. There is an eclectic feel to the collection. I was very amused by a series of portraits, completed between 1667 and 1669, of Pietro Banchieri, a young boy dressed up in a range of costumes: a dancer, Cupid, a Swiss Guard and a lady.

    From busts of popes (see photos #1 to #4) to paintings of peasants (see photo #5), the range of Roman life are on view throughout the stately rooms of Palazzo Braschi.

    The marble portrait bust of Pope Clement XII (see photo #1) is the work of Filippo della Valle. It is one of many portrait busts of popes and cardinals in the Museo di Roma’s Palazzo Braschi. A terra cotta version can be seen at Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Ghent Belgium.

    Shown in quarter length, the portrait bust of Scipione Cardinal Borghese (see photo #2), wearing his robes and biretta as a cardinal of the Roman Church. More well-known portrait busts of Cardinal Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V, by Gianlorenzo Bernini are in Rome’s Galleria Borghese.

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    Palazzo Braschi, the City Museum, Part II

    by von.otter Updated Aug 5, 2012
    Palazzo Braschi, Roma, May 2007
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    “Cease to admire the smoke, wealth, and noise of prosperous Rome. [Latin, “Omitte mirari beatae Fumum et opes strepitumque Romae.]”
    — Horace (65 BC-8 BC, Ancient Roman Poet)

    The man who built Palazzo Braschi was Luigi Braschi Onesti (1745 – 1816), nephew of Pope Pius VI. The Holy Father created his nephew duca di Nemi (duke of Nemi, a town in central Italy, in the Alban Hills overlooking Lake Nemi, a volcanic crater lake). Luigi’s mother Giulia Braschi was the pope’s sister, and his father was Count Girolamo Onesti.

    Luigi married a rich lady of the Falconieri family. At this time the pope allowed the newly wedded husband to build Palazzo Braschi off Piazza Navona, as well as another neoclassical Palazzo Braschi at Terracina (a town in the province of Latina, southeast of Rome), as a private residence the pope himself.

    Beginning in February of 1798, as the Napoleonic forced occupied the city, until 1802, construction on the palazzo in Rome was suspended. The French occupied the incomplete house and confiscated the antiquities from the the duke’s collection. Some of the duke’s antiquities were bought by the Crown Prince of Bavaria, later King Ludwig I and are on exhibit at the Glyptothek, built by Ludwig in Munich.

    Remember to look up when visiting museums housed in former palazzi; the ceilings are often works of art, such as the stucco ceilings (see photo #5) at Palazzo Braschi.

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    Palazzo Braschi, the City Museum, Part I

    by von.otter Updated Aug 5, 2012
    Palazzo Braschi, Roma, May 2007
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    “In Rome you long for the country; in the country oh inconstant! you praise the distant city to the stars”
    — Horace (65 BC-8 BC, Ancient Roman Poet)

    %4Palazzo Braschi was constructed where the 15th-century palazzo of Francesco Orsini, the Prefect of Rome, once stood. After changing hands several times over the centuries, Duke Luigi Braschi Onesti, a nephew of Pope Pius VI, bought it in 1790 from Prince Caracciolo di Santobono. Palazzo Orsini was demolished the following year and work for the new building, designed by Cosimo Morelli, began in 1792. Work was interrupted because of the 1798 French occupation, which resulted in Napoleon holding Pope Pius VI under house arrest in France. Construction resumed in 1802; but 1816, the year that Duke Luigi Braschi Onesti died, the palazzo was still unfinished. It was later sold by the duke’s heirs to the Italian government, which established the offices the Ministry of the Interior there.

    Palazzo Braschi has a grand staircase (see photos #1 & #2), boasting 18 red granite columns, which made up a cloister of the Santo Spirito Hospital, but were originally part of a portico built by Caligula along the River Tiber. Frescoes, original to the palazzo, can still be seen in many of the rooms. Following the Second World War, three hundred homeless families lived in the Palazzo until 1949. Since 1952, after extensive restoration work, Palazzo Braschi has housed the Museum of Rome.

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    Piazza Navona

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jul 1, 2012

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    Piazza Navona
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    Piazza Navona is a famous city square that better represents the 'bombastic' Baroque Epoch in Rome. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans came there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as 'Circus Agonalis' (competition arena). It is believed that over time the name changed to 'in agone' to 'navone' and eventually to 'navona'.
    Piazza Navona, which is a pedestrian area now, has 3 baroque fountains and the central one (Fountain of Four Rivers) designed by Bernini.
    Opposite to the piazza Navona fountain, we can find Sant' Agnese in Agone Church, which facade (by Borromini) is one of the most famous baroque masterpieces of Rome.

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    Piazza Navona

    by Ines_ Written Mar 18, 2012
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    Piazza Navona is, for me, the most beautiful square in Rome. It has two incredible fountains, being the “Four Rivers Fountain” (represents Danube, Ganges, Nile, and Rio de la Plata) the most well-known.

    In the square you can also find church, lots of restaurants, at afternoon/evening: artists and also a café (Tre Scalini) that serves Tartufo: a rich handmade chocolate ice cream roll – if you want to eat it seated on the restaurant the price will double.

    Advice: just bring it outside and eat it one of the Piazza’s benches.

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    Possibly the most charming of Rome's Piazzas

    by zadunajska8 Written Oct 23, 2011

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    St Agnes in Agony Church in Piazza Navona
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    We were delighted to find the Piazza Navona. It really is a charming and romantic square which felt much more relaxed than the frantic city does generally. The 3 fountains are all beautiful but the central fountain of the 4 rivers is a remarkable work of art, especially when viewed at sunset with the church of St Agnes in Agony as a backdrop. The restaurants and cafes on the square are naturally somewhat overpriced due to their location, but it is worth stoping at least for a coffee and a bit of people watching in one of them in my opinion, just for the experience. All the restaurants do seem to be quite aggressive in trying to get passersby in to their premises however, which can be annoying.

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    The Ultimate Roman Piazza

    by iblatt Written Sep 24, 2011

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    Bernini
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    I first read about Piazza Navona in a book about the history of art for children, before I ever visited it. The book told the story of the Baroque sculptor and architect Bernini, who lost the contract to build the church in Piazza Navona to his competitor, and then took his revenge: When he designed the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the four Rivers) in the center of the piazza, one prominent figure appears as if he is afraid the church is going to collapse and fall on his head (see main photo).

    Since then I have visited Rome several times, and every time I am drawn to this magnificent Baroque piazza. You walk through the small lanes of old Rome and it suddenly opens up in front of you in all its beauty. In its center there is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. The four river-gods of the world recline majestically, representing the four continents where Papal dominance had spread by the 17th century: Danube (representing Europe), Nile (Africa), Ganges (Asia) and Plate (America). An obelisk with the Pamphili family emblem (dove and olive twig) towers above them.

    This is only one detail of the great harmonious whole which makes Piazza Navona what it is. In Roman times there was a stadium in this place, which accounts for its elongated shape.
    In the 16th century this was Rome's public market square. The piazza as we see it today was commissioned by Pope Innocent X in the 17th century, glorifying his family, the Pamphili. The Pamphili palace (by Rainaldi), the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone (by Borromini and others), and two smaller fountains at either end of the piazza are other parts of the whole harmonious ensemble.

    But besides the buildings, sculptures and fountains, the other source of attraction of Piazza Navona are the people. Romans and, of course, lots of tourists, some of them first-timers in Rome who try to take it all in. There are street artists, local bands playing popular Italian melodies, photographers, tour guides, and lots of people in the cafes and restaurants.

    One thing is sure: Piazza Navona is a must in every visit to Rome!

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    FOUNTAIN OF FOUR RIVERS

    by DAO Updated Aug 18, 2011

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    MASTERPIECE !
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    If you see one thing at night in Rome, make it this fountain in the Piazza Navona. This sculpture and masterpiece was created by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). It was commissioned by Pope Innocent X to add a flourish to his family compound and creating a fountain for Romans by using the recently restored waters of the Acqua Vergine. In the centre is the Egyptian Obelisk taken from the Circus of Massenzio. The four mammoth figures on the sides represent 4 great rivers of the known world and were created by 4 of Bernini’s students. They are:
    • The figure of Nile - sculpted by Jacopo Antonio Fancelli and represents Africa
    • The Ganges by Claude Poussin (Asia)
    • The Danube by Antonio Raggi (Europe)
    • The Plate by Francesco Baratta (Americas)
    If you get the chance to see this fabulous fountain on a warm Roman night you will truly understand Rome. The Piazza is alive with cafes, restaurants, scooters and a buzz of people. Its pretty good in the daytime too.

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    Piazza Navona

    by Maria81 Written Aug 16, 2011

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    Piazza Navona

    History

    One of Rome's most favous squares, or piazzas, Piazza Navona was built on the site of previous Roman monuments (like most of the city) - namely Stadium of Domitian, which does explain its oval shape. There is still a sign of Domitian left on the square - it's his obelisk that is part of the central fountain we can see today.

    It is also one of the finest examples of Baroque Rome, with churches (Sant'Agnese in Agone and also Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore), fountains (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers, Fontana del Moro or Fountain of the Moor, and the Fountain of Neptune), and palaces (Palazzo Pamphili and Palazzo Braschi)

    The square is a place teeming with artists, souvenir sellers, musicians, eateries and overall one could easily spend a couple of hours if visiting the monuments themselves.

    Warnings

    As with most popular tourist locations, beware of pick-pockets (we had an unpleasant experience at another square, that by the Trevi fountain). Also be very much prepared for the fact that it will be crowded.

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