Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

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Piazza del Popolo

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  • MM212's Profile Photo

    Santa Maria del Popolo

    by MM212 Updated Aug 9, 2009

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    Santa Maria del Popolo
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    A chapel stood on the site of Santa Maria del Popolo since the 11th century, but it was not until the 15th century or Renaissance period that the current edifice was built. In the 17th century, during the height of the Baroque period, the church was further modified to give it a mix of the two architectural styles. It contains famous artwork, most notably by Caravaggio. Santa Maria del Popolo was made famous by the author Dan Brown, in his book Angels and Demons, now also a major Hollywood film.

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    St. Mary of the People

    by goodfish Updated Feb 7, 2014

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    Caravaggio: Crucifixion of St Peter
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    I wish I had more pictures of this one. It was late in the day, pouring rain, and very dark in the church so trying to take snaps without flash/tripod turned out to be an exercise in futility. This is an old (1472), very lovely Renaissance structure with some priceless works by the Italian masters including Raphael's Chigi Chapel, a few Gian Bernini sculptures, Bramante choir, frescoes by Pinturicchio, two outstanding Caravaggio paintings plus some interesting tombs.

    The "del Popolo" of the church and nearby piazza either means 'for the people' or was derived from the Latin word for poplar (populus), as in the tree. And while we're on the subject, there's an old legend about a tree and the first chapel built on this site in 1099: rumor had it that Nero's ashes had been buried here and a haunted walnut tree grew over the spot, hosting demon ravens sent to bedevil the wicked emperor's spirit. When the chapel was built, the tree was removed and everyone felt a whole lot better 'cause even a very dead Nero gave folks the heebie-jeebies.

    Entrance is free; see this website for more detailed info and hours:

    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/luoghi-di-culto-di-interesse-storico-artistico/chiese-cattoliche/santa-maria-del-popolo.html

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    The Church Santa Maria del Popolo.

    by chiara76 Updated Jan 11, 2006

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    The Church Santa Maria del Popolo.
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    The Church Santa Maria del Popolo was built in year 1472 and it is early Renaissance's building.

    It is very nice Church with a lot of art's pieces inside like the paintings of Caravaggio in Cerasi Chapel. There are two paintings of him there like "The Conversion of Paul" and "The Crucifixion of St Peter" from 1601-1602 year.

    A lot of famous artists worked in this Church like Bramante or Bernini.

    Chigi Chapel was projected by Raffaello.

    In my opinion you should visit this Church during your visit in Rome.

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    Santa Maria Del Popolo

    by mindcrime Written Mar 20, 2011

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    Santa Maria Del Popolo
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    Santa Maria del Popolo is a church that was built in 15th century by Pope Sixtus IV when he enlarged a former chapel into a church. The legend says that the small chapel was built by Pope Paschal II because the site (a tomb actually) was haunted by evil (the ghost of emperor Nero!) that had the form of crows that were at a walnut tree. So Pope chopped the tree down and built the chapel!

    Anyway, it’s an Augustian church with a simple baroque façade (pic 1) made by Bernini in 1660. It has three aisles and many side chapels especially the second one on the left that was designed by Raffael. We also noticed many nice paintings some of them made by Caravaggio, others from Pinturicchio and Carracci and some sculptures that later I read that made by Bernini. What a collection, and there’s no entrance fee :) I would pay a fee just to see the “Crucifixion of St.Peter” (made by Caravaggio in 1601)

    There were people inside (pic 2) listening to the priest so we stood quietly at the back. It was a nice break anyway from the bustling Popolo square outside.

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    Santa Maria del Popolo

    by GentleSpirit Written Feb 27, 2013

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    This church is one of the artistic jewels of Rome. Located on the Piazza del Popolo (same side as the Porta del Popolo (see picture). This church contains the family chapel of the Della Rovere family , of whom Pope Julius II was a member. Then Agostino Chigi, a friend of Pope Julius, asked to build his family chapel there as well. Raphael designed it, though it was unfinished. Fabio Chigi, who was Pope Alexander VII, had the chapel finished by none other than Gianlorenzo Bernini.
    If you like good painters, you will find two Caravaggio pieces in this church- "the Crucifixion of St Peter," and the "Conversion of St Paul."

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    Santa Maria del Popolo

    by von.otter Updated Apr 2, 2008

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    ���Habakkuk and the Angel���, December 1997
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    “From the Trinita we went to the Santa Maria del Popolo, a church built on a spot where Nero is said to have been buried, and which was afterwards made horrible by devilish phantoms. It now being past twelve, and all the churches closing from twelve till two, we had not time to pay much attention to the frescos, oil-pictures, and statues, by Raphael and other famous men, which are to be seen here. I remember dimly the magnificent chapel of the Chigi family.”
    from the 1858 “French and Italian Note-Books” of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

    The modest-looking Chiesa di Santa Maria del Popolo, Our Lady of the People, is a treasure trove of painting and sculpture.

    One of the richest examples of the church’s art is the 1513 Cappla di Chigi, the Chigi Chapel. The Sianese banker Agostino Chigi (1465-1520) engaged Raphael to design and decorate a chapel that would eventually become the banker's final resting place.

    More than 100 hundred years later, Fabio Chigi, who later became Pope Alexander VII, commissioned Gianlorenzo Bernini to spruce up his ancestor’s tomb. As part of the renovation Bernini designed and executed two marble groupings which face each other in the chapel. One of those groupings is “Habakkuk and the Angel” (see photos #1 & #2).

    Another is “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” by Bernini (see photos #4 & #5). Carved by Bernini between 1655 and 1657 Daniel’s face looks up to God, who is seen in the dome’s lantern of the chapel. Only the lion’s head is seen, as it licks Daniel’s foot, subdued by God in response to Daniel’s prayer.

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    17-Veritable Treasure-Santa Maria del Popolo

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Nov 19, 2012

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    Don't be deceived by the nondescript exterior of Santa Maria del Popolo, the church which is right next to the main entrance to Rome in days of yore, the Porta del Popolo. The interior of this Church is fabulous and is home to a rich collection of Renaissance paintings and sculptures by such great artists as Bernini, Carracci, Caravaggio, Pinturicchio and Raphael.

    This church had very humble beginnings but is possessed of a rich story. It appears that Emperor Nero was buried nearby. However, his ghost was fretful. Locals complained that a large walnut tree was home to ghoulish owls, crows and other sundry inhabitants whose nightly escapades disturbed their peace. Pope Paschal II had a ready answer to this problem. The tree was cut and a church erected on its site. End of problem. This was in 1099 AD.

    Almost two centuries later, in 1227 AD, the size of the church was increased. From 1472 to 1477, the church was reconstructed and the Renaissance artists went to work on it.

    The Church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary as can be seen from the image above the high altar. It is reported that Martin Luther stayed here in 1511 during his visit to Rome. On May 6, 1527, the church was pillaged during the Sack of Rome by the unpaid and rebellious troops of Charles V, but it was rebuilt soon thereafter. This event marked the end of the High Renaissance and the further advancement of Protestantism in Europe.

    The church houses some of the most famous paintings ever, like the 'Crucifixion of St. Peter' and the 'Conversion on the Way to Damascus' by Caravaggio. These paintings were done in 1600-01 AD and are placed in the Cerasi Chapel, the first chapel to the left of the choir. There is stark realism in both the paintings, a realism that may root you to the spot. The altarpiece by Carlo Maratta is, 'The Assumption of the Virgin with Doctors of the Church' (1689). The saints depicted are Augustine, Gregory the Great, John the Baptist, and John Chrysostom. Raphael decorated the dome of the church with his 'Creation of the World'.

    The Chigi Chapel, to the left of the altar, was commissioned by the banker, Agostino Chigi. It was created by Raphael during the period 1513-16. The death of Raphael in 1520 brought this work to a halt. It was completed by Bernini for Cardinal Fabio Chigi (Pope Alexander VII) after 1652. Bernini also added the sculpture of Habakkuk and the Angel and of the prophet Daniel.

    To the left of the Chigi chapel is the monument of Princess Maria Federica Odescalchi Chigi done by Paolo Posi in 1771. Her sculpture in black and white marble shows her long neck. It has been called the Last Baroque Tomb.

    Normal opening hours:
    Daily 7.00-12.00 and 16.00-19.00;
    Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation: 8.00-13.30 and 16.30-19.15.
    The major feast day of the church is Our Lady's Birthday on 8 September

    First Written: Nov. 19, 2012

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    Santa Maria del Popolo

    by brendareed Written Jun 2, 2014

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    I wish I would’ve spent more time exploring the church of Santa Maria del Popolo on this trip to Rome. It was on my must-see list for the two Caravaggios, a Raphael chapel, and some works by Bernini. But we were visiting towards the end of a rather long walking day and we still had a long walk ahead of us to get to my final must-see church (we had decided we’d walk through the Villa Borghese gardens to get there). We were burning daylight and needed to move quickly. Looking over the photos I took and comparing them to my memories, it all seems a bit of a blur. Next time, I’ll get there early in the day, fresh and ready to absorb the wonderful art located in this church.

    The church of Santa Maria del Popolo is located next to the Porta del Popolo on the Piazza del Popolo. So by now, if you are reading this and wondering what the “del Popolo” is (since all those names have it in it and don’t really tell you much more), let me tell you. The Porta del Popolo is the old northern gate to the ancient city of Rome leading to the Via Flamania and routes north. As you enter from the north through the gate, it opens to the Piazza del Popolo, now a large pedestrian area with an obelisk in the center. The church is named for this area – some sources say del Popolo means “the people” and others say the area and church were named after the poplar trees that grew in the area.

    The Augustinian church was built in the late 11th century, rebuilt in the 1200s, and later rebuilt in the Renaissance style in the 1400s. There was an Augustinian monastery attached to the church, most famous for the place where Martin Luther lived in Rome during his priestly mission in 1511 (prior to the Reformation).

    The highlight of the church is the chapel to the left of the choir in the northern transept. It is in this chapel that two amazing Caravaggio paintings are located: Crucifixion of St. Peter and Conversion of St. Paul. See my next tip for more details on these paintings.

    I was also interested in seeing the Chigi Chapel, designed almost exclusively by Raphael, which is the second chapel on the left. He designed the architecture, sculpture, painting, and mosaics of this side chapel. This chapel was also made popular by Dan Brown's novel, Angels and Demons. But, alas, it was not meant to be as the chapel was wrapped up tight for some renovations.

    Elsewhere in the church are sculptures by Bernini and Lorenzetto – the prophets Jonah, Habakkuk, Daniel, and Elijah. Behind the altar is the apse that was designed by Bramante, the chief architect of St. Peter’s Basilica during the time Michelangelo and Raphael were painting in the Vatican (and the man responsible for introducing Raphael to Pope Julius II). The apse is difficult to see and there is no access to it. The ceiling frescoes of Coronation of the Virgin, the four Evangelists, Sibyls and Four Fathers of the church are done by Pinturicchio, who also did the Nativity frescoes in the first chapel.

    No photographs are allowed of the Caravaggios, although photos can be taken in the rest of the church. There is a light that you can pay a euro to see the Caravaggios better – usually there is a crowd here and someone turns on the lights.

    Next trip to Rome will include another visit to this church to spend more time with the art of so many great masters.

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    Caravaggio in Santa Maria del Popolo

    by brendareed Written Jun 2, 2014

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    The highlight of Santa Maria del Popolo is the chapel to the left of the choir in the northern transept. It is in this chapel that two amazing Caravaggio paintings are located: Crucifixion of St. Peter and Conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Both are so simple and yet so complicated – they show very well known church stories but demonstrate a humanist of the subjects and almost emphasize other aspects of the scene rather than the saint depicted as the subject.

    In Crucifixion of St. Peter we see Peter, who was crucified upside down at his request so he would not be killed in the same way as Christ, nailed to a cross with an agonizing look about him. But then we notice the three men pushing and pulling the cross to the upright position and a shovel on the ground that just dug the hole for the cross. In Caravaggio style the painting’s background is very dark, but the lighting of the central scene is bright and highly detailed. Caravaggio was great at capturing the reality of a situation (and was criticized for being too realistic) – a good example is the feet of the man underneath the cross and how dirty they are. Muscles strain under the pressure of the work and the Peter seems to struggle with his thoughts and physical pain while this is all going on.

    The painting Conversion of St. Paul depicts the Biblical story from Acts of Paul being blinded by the light from Heaven and converting to a believer in Christ. He lays in the foreground of the scene, arms up and eyes shut, but he is a bit of an afterthought since the majority of the painting is of his horse that looks like it’s about to step on Paul. A man in the background tries to lead the horse away from Paul. Was this the exact moment he fell from the horse? Again, the realism of the painting is amazing – almost like a photograph.

    No photographs are allowed of the Caravaggios, although photos can be taken in the rest of the church. There is a light that you can pay a euro to see the Caravaggios better – usually there is a crowd here and someone turns on the lights.

    Note: The photos of these two paintings posted to this tip are legally used public domain photos without copyright from WikiCommons. I did not take these photos.

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    Excerpt from "Fifteen Weeks to Home"

    by mccalpin Written Sep 29, 2013

    The following is an excerpt from "Fifteen Weeks to Home", I novel I am writing about my experiences in Rome...thus section addresses Piazza del Popolo and Santa Maria del Popolo...

    "The Piazza del Popolo, where Felice dropped us off and picked us up, was in a good part of town for visitors. No, not the exact center, but close enough to a lot of what the tourists call “the sights”.

    The name of the piazza means literally, “the square of the people”, ‘popolo’ meaning ‘people’ in Italian. You would have thought that some democrats or pseudo-democrats like the communists of the 19th or 20th centuries would have called it that. Well, no, it was Pope Pasquale II some 900 years ago who set the events in motion for naming the square. It seems that the Pope made the people of Rome pay for the building of a chapel set against the outer walls of Rome on top of the place where the horrible pagan Emperor Nero was buried. Over time, the chapel became a church which was later named Santa Maria del Popolo – an early example of paying for naming rights – and so the piazza next to it received the same treatment.

    Oh, so you’ve heard of Santa Maria del Popolo? Yes, it was the church in the Ron Howard film of Angels & Demons where the first cardinal was found murdered. You might remember the front of that church – well, don’t bother. In the film, it was covered with scaffolding. This was to disguise the fact that the building the director actually used was a nearby police station.

    So much for using Hollywood for travel information."

    copyright (c) 2013 William J. 'Bill' McCalpin

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    S. Maria del Popolo church

    by Julius_Caesar Written Apr 1, 2005

    One of Rome’s greatest stores of artistic treasures, this early Renaissance church was commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere in 1472. Among the artists who worked in the building were Andrea Bregno and Pinturicchio. Later additions were made by Bramante and Bernini. Many illustrious families have chapels here, all decorated with appropriated splendour. The Della Rovere Chapel has delightful Pinturicchio frescoes, the Cerasi Chapel has two Caravaggio masterpieces, the Conversion of St. Paul and the Crucifixion of St. Peter, but the finest of all is the Chigi Chapel designed by Raphael for his patron, the banker Agostino Chigi.

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