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.
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.
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.
One of the more popular city squares in Rome, there were many people just hanging out at this piazza. A beautiful fountain, Fontana dei Quatrro Fiumi, is located in the piazza in front of the Palazzo Pamphilj. There are also two other fountains at the southern end of the piazza. It's very close to the Pantheon so you should combine this visit.
Some tidbits of information:
Fontana dei Quatrro Fiumi was built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1651. Dan Brown's book, Angels and Demons, listed the fountain as one of the Altars of Science and the southern end of the piazza was used in the filming of the movie.
An example of Baroque urban planning.
The Piazza was built in 1st century to stage athletics competitions.
Its name was gradually corrupted by the Roman dialect during the Middle-Ages:
The "Piazza in Agone" became the "Piazza N'Agone", and finally the "Piazza Navona".
We talked from our hotel, to the Trevi Fountain, to the Pantheon, to the 4 rivers fountain plaza. Its an easy walk. Lots to see along the way. The fountain is large and beautiful. Couldn't see the bird on the top of the obelisk that "Demons and Angels" said was there. It looked like a lovely place to stay a while and relax.
What a beautiful square! Piazza Navona is very popular among the visitors of Rome that come here for the lovely atmosphere as it is full of street artists, musicians, numerous outdoor cafes and many stalls with products and souvenirs. The place is always busy with people and its nice to see during the day but also later in the night (pic 1), we passed through many times during our visit as it located at the historic centre.
This baroque square has the form of the stadium of Domitian that used to be on the same site (1st century AD) and later during the middle ages it was used for horse races. There are some interesting palaces and churches(Sant'Agnese) around but also beautiful sculptures to see and 3 beautiful fountains:
Fontana del Nettuno (pic 2).
Fontana del Moro (pic 3), a beautiful fountail indeed, showing a Moor fighting with a dolphin, originall the fountain was a large basin but Bernini added the sculpture in 19th century.
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (pic 4), The fountain of the 4 rivers is my favorite one showing 4 figures that represent 4 rivers(Danube, Ganges, Nile, Plate) from 4 different continents(Europe, Asia, Africa, America). Above them is an obelisk while at the top is a dove with an olive branch. My favorite sculpture is the one of Rio de la Plata that seems to be afraid of something, lovely pose for picture (pic 5)
The Piazza Navona is the most famous and beautiful of Rome's many squares. When one is taking photos of the square, you can't miss the baroque church of Sant' Agnese in Agone.
The Piazza Navona is situated on the historic center of Rome, west of the Pantheon. It is one of the liveliest squares with many outdoor cafes', restaurants and nights clubs in the neighborhood.
For a wonderful lunch on a sunny afternoon purchase meats, cheeses, and a bottle of wine for a picnic at Piazza Navona. Wish I had a dime for how many times someone told us what a wonderful idea plus wish I had someone take a picture of the two of us sharing a meal by a beautiful fountain - so romantic!
Also on Piazza Navona is Palazzo Pamphilj, the largest building in the square. Currently housing the Brazilian Embassy, the palazzo is a 17th-century creation by architect Giralamo Rainaldi for Pope Innocent X (Cardinal Giambattista Pamphilj) whose family, the Pamphilj, owned a smaller version of the palace before his accession to the papacy. The palace was enlarged following the cardinal's election to the throne - mainly to mark the family's increased prestige.
Piazza Navona was ancient Rome's main market for centuries. Today, it is a focal point for hordes of tourists attracted by the piazza's lively atmosphere, stylish cafes, local art market and the three fountains: Fontana del Moro (photos 1-3), Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, and the ever popular Fontana del Nettuno (photos 4-5). The centerpiece is Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), but it was under restoration at the time of my visit.
Between the two functional fountains, I found the Fontan del Moro to be more dramatic and more worthy as a photo subject - especially the sculpture of a Moor wrestling a dolphin added by Bernini to Giacomo della Porta's original design.
The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers) is one of the 3 fountains on Piazza Navona. The rivers in question - the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile and the Plate - are represented by four huge allegorical figures who in turn represent the four continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The Nile is blindfolded because the source of the river was then still unknown. Rising above the statues is an obelisk taken from the Circus of Maxentius. The obelisk is topped by the figure of a dove with an olive branch to show that this once pagan monument has been converted into a Christian one.
Piazza Navona is one of the most animated squares in Rome, full of tourists and Romans wandering among stalls set up by artists or relaxing with a coffee in one of the many bars. Piazza Navona was built over the remains of the emperor Domitian's ancient atheletics stadium. It was originally used for atheletic contests and horse races. Three baroque fountains can be found on the piazza: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fontana del Nettuno - all Bernini's masterpieces.
Arguably the epicenter of Rome's tourism industry, tourists easily outnumber locals at Piazza Navona. But this doesn't mean you have to give this venue a pass - that is if you can escape it. Its location in the heart of Rome's centro storico (historical center) means that you would have to pass by this amazing public square built on the ruins of a Roman arena. Might as well make the most it.
I specifically liked the energy that pervades around the piazza. It's tourism-oriented (think tourists haggling for painting), but very much intense in terms of energy and character from the beautiful baroque palazzi and fountains. It, too, is a perfect refuge for tired tourist's feet, while being entertained by the throng of tourists, who, most probably share your purpose in being there.
Rome holds a very special attraction for me at sunrise. Even the most popular destination will unveil her heart to you at dawn - when it is quiet, solitary, with lingering traces of the previous night's revelry (photo 1). Strewn evidence of the racous nightlife will shortly give way to the artisan's easel. The commanding presence of the Church of Santa Agnese en Agone will open its doors to the devoted - not an unusual scene in Rome where revelry and reverence co-exist, seemingly oblivious to each other or, perhaps, choosing to ignore one another. Sunrise reveals the secrets of the night and you are privy to the transition. The absence of people provides an unobstructed view of the resident art - the rising sun baths the piazza in radiant light. Witness nature embellish art - changing the tint of travertine from moment to moment. I won't blink - won't miss a shade.
Photo 2 - Piazza Navona is bustling during the day and always a center of Rome's night life. The Piazza in daytime with artists and browsers with the Church of Santa Agnese in Agone in background.
Photo 3 - Piazza Navona was frequently flooded - nope, not by rain nor storm runoff or the Tevere -- by Romans themselves to provide fun for all! This plate by Vasi shows us Piazza Navona in summer when it was flooded to provide refreshment to the Romans - reminiscent of an ancient era when the Stadium of Domitianus was used for "naumachias" - combat boat games.
Photo 4 - Marcel's show early evening in summer - a "must see" especially for families - more detail on Local Customs tip
The Piazza was embellished at the end of 19th century by the third fountain on the north side. Pope Innocentius X, Giovanni Battista Pamphili 1572-1655, was elected in 1644. (More detail on the fountains in another tip). He was born in the family palace in Piazza Navona and is buried in the Church of Santa Agnese in Agon. This gives us a hint as to why he devoted effort and resources to transform the former vegetable market among the ruins of the Stadium of Domitianus into one of the most impressive piazzas in all of Rome.
This oval shaped piazza was my favourite square in Rome. It takes its shape from being on the site of an ancient Roman stadium. The square is visibly beautiful, the main style of architecture is Baroque.
The square is dominated on one side by the church Sant' Agnese in Agone. In the centre is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. The four rivers are represented by four giants & in the centre an obelisk. There are fountains at either end of the square also. As the square is a magnet for tourists it is surrounded by shops & cafes.