Piazza Navona is one of famous city squares in Rome. Also regarded to be the most beautiful piazza in Rome, it is known to be built on the site where Stadium of Domitian lied. An ancient Its massive size allows Piazza Navona to have three beautiful fountains. One of them, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, has an Egyptian obelisk erected in its center, making it a great tourist attraction. The baroque church of Sant’Agnese in Agone is also another main attraction that cannot be missed by visitors of Piazza Navona.
When it was built in the first century, the piazza was in a form of open space stadium where people came to watch games. That is the reason why ancient Romans called it Circus Agonalis, meaning competition arena. There is a belief that the name “navona” was originated from “navone” which came from “agone”.
The History of Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona was a public space in the 15th century. When the city market then moved to Campidoglio during the reign of Pope Innocent X, the piazza was then turned into a place to display Baroque Roman architecture and art. Those baroque architectures were the three fountains, the church, and the Pamphili palace. The first fountain to be constructed was the Fountain of Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo. Next following the other two fountains, Moor Fountain and Neptune Fountain designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1575.
Throughout the history, the piazza has hosted numerous art and theatrical events. People flooded the piazza every Saturday and Sunday of August in 17th until 19th century when festival was suppressed. In 1869, the city market was moved back to the piazza. Visitors will also be able to expect a Christmas market in December.
The Fountain of Four Rivers
The Fountain of the Four Rivers, or Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in its original language, is the largest, oldest, and most famous fountain in Piazza Navona. The design of the fountain was originally meant to be done by Borromini. However, something fell out along the way and it was Bernini instead who had the chance to design the fountain.
The name of the fountain is taken from the four figures featured in the fountain. Each of them represents one main river in the world, the Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio della Plata. These statues are placed surrounding an Egyptian obelisk which is also a prominent icon of the fountain.
Neptune Fountain and Moor Fountain
Fontana di Nettuno (Neptune Fountain) and Fontana del Moro (Moor Fountain) are the other two fountains located in Piazza Navona. Both of the fountains were built by Giacomo della Porta during the 16th century.
Bernini later added the statue of a Moor holding a dolphin to the Moor Fountain in 17th century. The statue in Neptune Fountain, which depicts Neptune holding his trident fighting against a creature surrounded by sea nymphs, was added later in the 19th century.
Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone
The church’s construction was commissioned by Pope Innocent X in 1652. It is believed that the place where the church is located now, is the exact area where Saint Agnes was stripped by people but suddenly a miracle happened which saved her from disgrace.
The church was designed by Borromini and constructed two years after the completion of the Fountain of Four Rivers. The church was finally completed in 1670.
Visiting Piazza Navorna
Piazza Navona is a public square, so visitors can visit the place anytime they want without any entrance fee. To get there, there are three bus routes that can take you to the piazza. – Bus no 87 which departs from Colosseo Metro line B Colloseo. – Bus no. 492 which departs from Piazza Barberini. – Bus no. 70 which departs from Termini Station.