Piazza Navona

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Piazza Navona is, undoubtedly, one of the most refined squares and bright corners in Rome. In ancient times, the athletic stadium was located on this spot of the metropolitan land and Romans were watching the “agones” or the “games”. That is why Piazza Navona was previously known as “Circus Agonalis” or “competition arena”. Nowadays, all guests of the Italian capital can visit the majestic baroque fountains and medieval temples.

Piazza Navona
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Domizian stadium (Stadio di Domoziano) was built in Rome as Tit Flaviy’s gift to Roman citizens and was used for conducting different sport events. Here, the second name of the stadium is Agons arena and Navona Square got its name thanks to this term. In the 1st century A.D.  the stadium was called “Campus Agonis”, while closer to the Middle Ages this form transformed into “n’agone”. Lastly, the name of the place was simplified to “navona”.

The antique stadium had a really grandiose size: 275*106 meters with the quantity of spectators up to 15 thousands. Also, the arcs around the stadium had merchants and entertainment facilities. Another notable fact is that one of the brothels located near the stadium later became a church.

History of Piazza Navona

Early Christian Period

The Church of Santa Maria del Sacro Cuore (Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore)

The Church of Santa Maria del Sacro Cuore (Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore) was erected on the ruins of Domiziana stadium in the 12th century. From 13th to 17th century this  basilica was considered to be a national spanish church in Rome.

In the 19th century, Pope Leo the 3rd renovated this wonderful church. Consequently, the main entrance was moved to Navona Square. Another interesting thing – majority of pictures and other decorations of the temple and the sanctuary were performed mostly by the Renaissant artist Francisco de Castello.

Church of Santa Maria del Sacro Cuore
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Baroque epoch

Navona Square is one of the most outstanding examples of baroque style in Rome. Additionally, at the end of the 15th century, one of the members of the Pamphili family bought out three old houses located on the square. Half century later, Giambattista Pamphili took the gown and changed his name to Innokentii the 10th. Furthermore, the Pope decided to build a family palace in the southern part of Piazza Navona.

Pamphili Palace can make a boast of its 23 halls and a marvelous gallery that spreads almost all the way through the ground floor. Also, all the walls in the gallery were covered with frescos of Pietro da Cortona in 1651. Later, in 1672, the church of St. Agnes, where the Pope Innokentii 5th was buried, was adjusted to the complex. Nowadays, the embassy of Brasil is inside this historic building.

Agnes of Rome

St. Agnes, also called Saint Agnes of Rome, lived in th 4th century in Rome. According to the legend, Agnes was a charming teenage martyr, who had dedicated herself life with God as a virgin. Once she was ordered by a Roman Magistrate to give a sacrifice to the goddes Minerva. Agnes refused and for her integrity and faith in Christianity, which later denounced as a cult, in punishment she was exposed in a brothel. However, despite the fact that Agnes was humiliated, her innocence led people to respect her. Consequently, the son of the Magistrate tried to disrespect her, but magically became blind for his attempts. With Agnes’ prays he was healed, but it didn’t stop the Magistrate to order her execution about 305 A.D. Soon, she was buried in one of the catacombs on Via Nomentana, where the second church in honor of her located.

St Agness Church in Rome


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There are 3 baroque fountains one the Navona Square.

The Fountain of the Four Rivers

Piazza Navona Fountains
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In the centre of the square you can find the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi), with the waters of the ancient roman aqueduct. This fountain was built in 1648-51 and the architect by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. A graceful baroque fountain enhanced by the satues of the river Gods and Godesses that favour the Nile, Danube, Ganges and La Plata.

Bernini vs Boromini

St. Agness sanctuary decorated with baroque ornamental script and was built according to the project of Francesco Borromini. Moreover, Bernini and Borromini worked together until the struggle for the affluent customers baffled their alliance.


Piazza Navona Neptun's fountain
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Neptune’s fountain (Fontana del Nettuno)

Neptune’s fountain was created by Giacomo della Porta. The first version of the fountain was quite modest and didn’t have any embelishments. Only at the end of the 19th century, it was renovated by the architect Antonio della Bitta.

Piazza Navona history
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Fountain of the Moor

Fountain of the Moor (Fontana del Moro) appeared in 1576 with regard to the project of the architect Giacomo della Porta. It represnts a Moor standing in a conch shell, while wrestling with a dolphin. Moreover, he is surrounded by four Tritons.

In 1874, during a restoration of the Moor Fountain, the original statues were moved to the Galleria Borghese and replaced with copies.

Piazza Navona Moor fountain
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Braski Palace

Braski Palace (Palazzo Braschi) was constructed in Rome in 1792. Cosimo Morelli worked out the architectural design and became the supervisor of the construction activities. However, Napoleon’s invasion freezed the decoration works until 1811. The Braski lost the rights for obtaining the palace while the government couldn’t find a use for such a luxirious and posh building.

Starting from 1949, Braski Palace was used as a shelter for 300 Italian families, and in 1952, it got the status of the museum of Rome.

The museum works from 9 am to 7 pm, the price for the ticket is 9 euro.

Official website: www.museodiroma.it

Modern life of the square

The square is crowded with tourists, who are willing to have a look at baroque fountains and ancient temples. A great variety of souvenir shops that are placed all along the square help tourists to cherish the memories of Rome and its beauties.

Piazza Navona restaurants

Hotels near

Many luxury hotels located near the Piazza Navona.

With the use of the special filter you can choose the best hotel for you.

Hotels near piazza Navona in Rome

Three best hotels near:

  1. Hotel Raphael – Relais & Châteaux – perfect 5 star hotel for the true fans of Julia Roberts, as the famous Restaurant Saint Lucia located near, where the main character of the Eat Pray Love had her dinner
  2. Eitch Borromini Palazzo Pamphilj – 4 star hotel located in the Piazza Navona in the building of XVII century made by the famous baroque architect Francesco Borromini
  3. Rhea Silvia Luxury Navona – has fantastic rooms with the view to the square
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Author: Kate Zusmann

For the last 6 years I live in the Eternal City. Traveling, exploring new things, writing blogs, shooting vlogs are my main hobbies, but the thing that I like even more is to share my experience and thoughts with you! Explore Rome with Us :)

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