Piazza del Popolo located between the Pincio district and the banks of the Tevere. There are churches, fountains, monuments, ancient and modern marble memoirs on the square. It was rebuilt by Valadier architect in 1834, who designed two half laps to the obelisk.
Piazza del Popolo is the site where foreigners arrived in the city during the era of the Empire. There is the church of Santa Maria del Popolo on the left side of the square, which was rebuilt by Baccio Pontelli and Andrea Bregno between 1472 and 1477. The church hosts paintings and sculptures by Caravaggio, Pinturicchio, Carracci, Raffaello, Bernini, and Bramante.
The square is named after the poplar tree
Rome’s Northern entrance served as a vestibule into the city through the gate in the Aurelian Walls. It was known as Porta del Popolo, but the name was changed several times over the time. Originally, it was called Porta Falminia and the Emperor Aurelianus commissioned the construction. During the Early Medieval period, the name was changed into Porta San Valentino because of the catacomb located nearby. Finally, Porta del Popolo was agreed as the official name because the church adjoining the gate is Santa Maria del Popolo.
Also, in the Middle Ages, the square was named Piazza del Trullo, after the fountain that stood in the center of it. This fountain was moved to Piazza Nicosia to make four fountains with Egyptian lions. It was under the supervision of Domenico Fontana.
In 1655, the Swedish Queen Christina arrived to Rome through Porta del Popolo. Bernini had been commissioned to remake the inner façade of the gate before her arrival. A plaque appeared above the arch with the sign “FELICI FAUSTOQUE INGRESSUI MDCLV” (For a Happy and Propitious Entrance), which you can see nowadays. Moreover, the Queen decided to spend all her life in Rome after her visit.
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By the end of 1700’s, during the Napoleonic invasion, there was the increase of visitors and pilgrims, who came to Rome through Porta del Popolo. For this reason, the square was modernized. Moreover, during the Napoleonic epoch, Touron was head of the “Commission of Embellishments” in the Eternal City. Valadier was under his commission to redesign the square. Works began in 1816 and ended in 1824. Three buildings remained untouched: Santa Maria del Popolo, Santa Maria di Montesanto, and Santa Maria dei Miracoli.
After, the lateral structures were removed and the square acquired an ellipse form
The fountains of Neptune between two tritons and the Goddess Rome were added in 1823, at the time of the reign of Pope Leo XII. Piazza del Popolo became accessible from each side. Moreover, the square became accessible to the park on the above hill, which we now nowadays as Villa Borghese. Today, the three churches on the square dedicated to the Virgin and they surround the obelisk dedicated to the pagan Sun good.
At the southern end of the square you can find two famous symmetrical churches: the Santa Maria dei Miracoli and the Santa Maria in Montesanto. They were commissioned by Pope Alexander VII in 1658 and both designed by Carlo Rainaldi.
The churches are not identical because the surface area of the plot of the Santa Maria in Montesanto was smaller on the left side
However, to give the impression of symmetry, Rainaldi made an oval dome for the Santa Maria in Montesanto and a circular dome for the Santa Maria dei Miracoli.
It is important to note that the third church, the Santa Maria del Popolo was built in 1477 on the site of an 11th-century chapel. There are many remarkable artworks as Rome’s oldest stained-glass windows and paintings of Caravaggio. Also, the Chigi and the Della Rovere chapels created by Raphael covered with 15th-century frescoes.
What to See
- Two almost identical churches Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria di Monte Santo.
- Santa Maria del Popolo Church
- The gate of the Aurelian wall, Porta del Popolo
- Egyptian Obelisk, which originally stood in the Circus Maximus. It is one of the largest and oldest obelisks in Rome
- Fontana dell’Obelisco
- Fontana del Nettuno
Location: Piazza del Popolo, near Villa Borghese park and Via del Corso famous shopping street
How to Get There
What to See Nearby
- Santa Maria del Popolo
- Ara Pacis
- Villa Borghese
- Piazza di Spagna & the Spanish Steps
- Keats-Shelley House
There are many excellent hotels near Piazza del Popolo. This area is convenient for staying if you are interested in shopping and Roman most famous sites. Read more about best hotels near piazza del popolo.
Best hotels nearby:
- Rocco Forte Hotel De Russie – located on Via del Babuino, this hotel has views of Piazza del Popolo. There are spacious rooms and a gourmet restaurant. Moreover, guests can relax in the spa center with sauna, Turkish bath and salt-water hydro-massage pool.
- Hotel Piranesi – an elegant boutique hotel with an excellent service and beautiful interiors. Also, it is surrounded by antique shops, art galleries and designer stores. Hotel Piranesi has a rooftop garden with the views of Rome’s historic center.
- Margutta 19 – offers beautiful rooms with all amenities and a restaurant with local plates. Each room has a coffee machine and free bathrobes, slippers and toiletries.
Since this is touristic area, you should be careful in your choice of a restaurant. These are several options to visit:
- Babette is an elegant restaurant in Via Margutta, the street that was setting for Roman Holiday movie. There is an excellent service and a cuisine based on family recipes. Moreover, there is a wide selection of desserts
- Popolo Caffè offers special menus with inexpensive prices and great quality of food. The choice of plates is generous and the service is at a high level.
- Porto di Ripetta has a welcoming ambiance and the menu consists of typical Mediterranean dishes. Moreover, there is an excellent wine list. Also, this restaurant would be a great choice for breakfast time.
Piazza del Popolo is one of the must-see sites in Rome. It has an impressive architecture with remarkable fountains, churches, and an obelisk in the center of the square. Moreover, with its great location, you can easily discover most of the Roman important sites within a foot walk.