I walked down to the Piazza del Popolo after spending much of the day up the hill at the Borghese Gardens. It is true to say that the scale of the piazza is grand by anyones standard.
There are some interesting architectural features such as the Porta del Popolo which is one of the old gates into Rome (medieval) and the twin churches either side of Via Del Corso - Santa Maria del Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto.
The squares main church is Santa Maria del Popolo and I was surprised at how tucked away in a corner it seems. Sadly it was closed when we got there and so we couldn't go inside (it closes between 12 noon and 4pm).
The disappointing aspect of the piazza is however how seedy the area feels. There are numerous cafes nearby, in particular at the entrances to teh streets leading off the piazza but all have a tacky, touristy and/or dubious look about them in my opinion and I wasn't at all tempted to linger.
I adore urban planning which unites streets, buildings, monuments and piazzas into one harmonious whole. Piazza del Popolo is the perfect example in Rome.
Originally (1538) this was the grand entrance to the city of Rome from the north, through the Porta del Popolo gate in the wall. Entering through this gate you see a piazza in the shape of a perfect circle, a 36 meter high Egyptian obelisk in the center, and twin Baroque churches at the far end, standing guard at the starting point of Via del Corso: Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto.
The road leading west from the piazza, V. F. di Savoia, leads directly to the bridge of Regina Margherita on the Tiber, and then on the west bank of the river it changes to Via Cola di Renzio leading to the Piazza di Risorgimento and the walls of the Vatican.
Undoubtedly, the best spot to see this whole Roman vista is the Pincio Hill garden, on the border of the Villa Borghese gardens: This view is certainly worth the climb!
Piazza del Popolo is People’s square (popolo is people in Italian) but according to my guide book its name comes from poplars, the flower plant.
The square is very big and its one of the places that people gather for major events like New Years Eve, football celebrations etc 2 centuries before it was a place for public executions too but that cant be seen anymore (don’t bother to look for them in Colosseum, nothing there too).
You can see the Porta del Popolo(pic 1) which was the Porta Flaminia in ancient Rome when the square was just inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls that surrounded the city. The walls were demolished many centuries before but the square is enclosed by semicircular walls that date from the beginning of 19th century.
The morning we visited there was a small festival about babies (pic 2). I think the square is ugly but it looked much better during the night(pic 3).
In the center of the square you can see the obelisco Flaminio(Popolo Obelisk )(pic 4), a tall Egyptian obelisk that was erected by Rameses II from Heliopolis although 3 sides of it are carved by Sety I and only one by Ramesses. It was brought to Rome in 10BC but originally it was set up in the Circus Maximus until 1589 when it moved here.
At the bottom of the obelisk is the Fontana dell’Obelisco, where you can have your photo over the lions like every tourist does :) The four small fountains are 4 lions over different stepped plinths at the four corners of the obelisk.
Another fountain on the square is Fontana del Nettuno (pic 5), where you can see Neptune and 2 dolphins.
The People's Square as commonly known in the english world has taken its name from the church of Santa Maria Del Popolo which is also in the plaza.
The plaza is in fact a popular execution until the year 1826. It's now a popular square where people congregate or just sit around the egyptian obelisk - of Ramses II of Heliopolis (Egypt) - and wait for the sunset.
The street Via Ripetta which is one of a branch street of the plaza is a popular pedestrian shopping street, and there are a lot of outdoor cafe and restos here.
The plaza could get very busy with a lot of people and there are first-aide medics on bicycles standing by with an ambulance on the side near the church.
It's also romantic in late afternoon with a musician (sax or violinist) right next to the obelisk playing music that could be heard in the whole plaza. And what would best compliment the romantic atmosphere than people selling roses around here, plenty of them.
The Piazza del Popolo was designed by Valadier at the turn of the century. It is an enormous square, architecturally superb and perfectly symmetrical. In the center stands the city's second obelisk which was brought to Rome by Augustus and re-erected here by Fontana under Sixtus V in 1589. There are two twin churches of Santa Maria on the square - Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli.
One of the more famous squares in Rome, Piazza del Popolo was designed to resemble St Peter's Square. A 3000 year old Ancient Egyptian obelisk, brought to Rome by Emperor Augustus to be placed in the centre of Circo Massimo, was moved to Piazza del Popolo in the 16th century. It is mounted in the middle of the square over a fountain by Domenico Fontana. Surrounding the piazza on one side are the twin domed churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto, and on the other are Porta del Popolo and the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, to which the piazza owes its name. Overlooking the piazza is Pincio Garden, a small park on a hill adjacent to Villa Borghese. Piazza del Popolo is a popular gathering place and it is also where New Year's Eve outdoor festivities take place in Rome.
This square is probably one of the most beautiful of Rome a city full of beautiful squares. Its name translates as the square of the people although its origin comes from poplars.
The square was the place of the city gates of the Aurelian walls (built in III AC to protect the city from barbarians) and the place where one of the main routes of the city, towards the north started. It was the first image of the city and a place where, until the middle of the XIX century, public executions took place.
Starting in this square there is the Pincian Hill a public park, a hill called by the romans the hill of gardens due to the several gardens and villas that existed in this place and the name is from one of the local families of that time. The today desing comes from the beginning of the XIX century.
In the square there is also a church that dates back to the XI century and dedicated to Our Lady. The place was believed to be haunted by the ghost of Nero.
The look of the plaza today has a neoclassical style dating back to XIX century and designed by Valadier. In the centre of the square there is an Egyptian obelisk of Rameses II from Heliopolis
Piazza del Popolo... I guess almost European country has one and Rome is no exception to the rule. The name means "the square of the people", but it is believed that in fact the piazza was named after the poplar trees that we can see on the NE side of the piazza.
The Roman Piazza del Popolo is the ancient entrance to the city. It was a small piazza that went through a face lift in 1480 when Pope Sixtus IV decided to change its appearance and transform it into the large and impressive piazza we see today.
The piazza is very close to the Spanish Steps, therefore you may want to add it to your itinerary on the day you visit the Spanish Steps.
Piazza del Popolo was one of my favorite squares in Rome, second only to Piazza Navona. We spent a majority of New Year's Eve here and enjoyed it greatly. The people watching and fireworks were wonderful.
In the main picture accompanying this tip you will notice a lion statue. This statue is part of a fountain in the middle of the square. There are actually 4 different lions at each corner of the fountain and a large obelisk in the middle of the fountain (the obelisk was originally constructed in Egypt and when brought to Rome was first located at the Circus Maximus).
If you visit Piazza del Popolo, be sure to climb atop one of the lions (watch your step though!) and take a seat on its back and have your picture taken.
Piazza del Popolo is very close to the Spanish Steps and is an important part of Rick Steve's "Night Walk". Though we didn't follow Mr. Steve's "Night Walk" exactly as suggested in his book, we did do a lot of night walking through here on New Year's Eve and I would highly recommend this as a place to visit at night.
There are 2 places to be as a tourist in Rome on New Year's Eve: Piazza del Popolo for the fireworks and partying or the Colosseum for the concert and partying.
We chose Piazza del Popolo. It was pretty crazy. From 21:00 until 24:00 the Piazza was full of partygoers setting off their own fireworks. Immediately after midnight the government-sanctioned fireworks went off and it was at least a half hour show. One of the best fireworks displays that I have ever seen.
Coming from the U.S., where public drinking of alcohol is illegal, it was surprising to see alcohol being drank in public. It was obviously not illegal as many police were nearby and watching the events.
There were a couple vendors set up (1 near the Metro stop at Piazza del Popolo and 1 near the Spanish Steps) where you could purchase sandwhiches, champagne and beer.
WARNING: It was impossible to get a cab after midnight. We saw more taxis than you could imagine all week when we didn't need them, but after midnight on New Year's there was not a single available one to be found. It was a long walk back to our hotel.
It was great to experience a universal event like New Year's Eve in another country. We had a wonderful time that we will never forget.
This used to be the gathering place for public when Roman Emperor was addressing. It is comparatively large to the other squares in Rome. The symmetry catches the eye. The fountains on both sides are perfect for refreshing your feet after a long day of walking.
Even the most avid souvenir collector would have trouble matching the efforts of some of Rome's emperors , and modern day luggage allowances would be stretched to the limit too. Finding somewhere to put an Egyptian obelisk once you got it home could pose a problem as well.
None of these things got in the way of the Romans who, like almost all who have followed them to the great Kingdom on the Nile, fell under the thrall of this extraordinary civilization. It wasn't just Cleopatra who bewitched the greatest generals of their day - the first emperor, Augustus, was sometimes portrayed as an Egyptian Pharaoh, the gods of the Nile were admitted to the Roman Pantheon and it was Augustus who brought two Egyptian obelisks back to Rome, the first of many that appeared in the city, both authentically Egyptian and Roman copies, over the next 300 years. By the mid-16th century, all but one were in ruins, broken and scattered, exotic remnants of the Rome that was gone.
Thirteen are standing today, repaired and placed in strategic places in the urban renewal that took place under Pope Sixtus V, their pagan origins muted by the addition of Christian crosses and papal symbols. You'll find some of them at:
Piazza del Popolo - one of those brought to Rome by Augustus in 30BC, this obelisk was first erected by Rameses II in Heliopolis and dedicated to the sun. In Roman times it stood in the middle of the Circus Maximus.
Piazza delle Quirinale - this is one of a pair of obelisks that guarded the entrance to Augustus' mausoleum. It has no heiroglyphs and is flanked by huge sculptures of Castor and Pollux that were moved here from the Baths of Constantine at the same time as the obelisk was erected.
Piazza Navona - currently rising out of a hoarding rather than the magnificent Bernini fountain which is currently undergoing restoration. A Roman obelisk, it was originally erected by Domitian after the fire that destroyed much of the city (including many of the buildings in the Forum) in 80AD.
Piazza della Rotunda (outside the Pantheon) - a small Egyptian obelisk from Heliopolis.
Piazza di Santa Maria sopra Minerva - another small Egyptian obelisk, this one sits atop a delicious sculpture of an elephant - the idea of Bernini, though not his work.