Popolo Square In Rome | Piazza del Popolo | Rome Guided Tours
PIAZZA DEL POPOLO ROME, one of the largest and most scenic squares in Rome, and certainly among the finest and most characteristic in the world. The square was designed by Giuseppe Valadier (1816-20), and its lines are of the most exquisite neo-Classic inspiration. The double exedra gave symmetrical balance to the once rectangular space on this side of the Popolo Gate.
The two shell-shaped fountains that grace the exedras, surmounted by the groups representing Rome between Tiber and Aniene and Neptune with the Tritons, add a flowing beauty to the monumental square on the right side of which climb the roads which give access to the Pincio Hill. In the center of the square rises the Flaminio Obelisk, 24 meters high with a 12-meter base. It was taken to Rome from Egypt under Augustus and placed in the Circus Maximus. in its present location. Sixtus V (1588) caused it to be erected.
The square ends at Porta del Popolo on the Northern side, the ancient gateway to Rome opened near the Roman Flaminia Gate. The inner face of the Gate was modified and decorated by Bernini in 1655 on the occasion of Queen Christine of Sweden’s coming to Rome. A fantastic view opens before the visitor turns his back to Porta del Popolo and looks to the Corso. The perspective of the three streets (the so-called Trident), which spread out fanwise, is pleasantly completed by the pillars formed by the Churches of Santa Maria Dei Miracoli, on the right, and Santa Maria in Monte Santo, on the left, both of the late XVII Century. Attached to the Porta del Popolo is the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, built in the XI Century by enlarging a small chapel built over the Tomb of the Domitii and rebuilt by Baccio Pontelli and Andrea Bregno under Sixtus IV (1472-77). The facade is of the early Renaissance period and was reputedly designed by Baccio Pontelli.
The most important entrance to Rome. It was designed by the architect Valadier for Pope Pius VII, in order to give the first impression of beauty and magnificence to the people coming to Rome from the North; as, before railways were constructed, visitors had to enter the city through this square.
The center of the square is decorated with four Egyptian lions throwing water into four basins.
Above the fountain rises one of the largest obelisks in the world (118 feet high). It was originally erected (14 centuries B.C.) before the temple of the Sun at
Heliopolis, in Egypt and was brought to Rome by Augustus (23 years B.C.) to decorate the Circus Maximus; here it was found buried and broken, by Pope Sixtus V who had restored and erected here by architect Fontana in 1589.
The two hemicycles of the square are ornamented with two fountains surmounted by groups, one representing Neptune between two Tritons, the other Rome between the rivers Anio and Tiber.
The present gate dates from the period of Pope Pius IV who had it decorated on the outside, after the design of Michelangelo (1561). The internal part of the gate was transformed as it is, by Bernini in 1655, on the coming to Rome of Queen Christine of Sweden.
From the square branch out the three most important streets of Papal Rome: the “ Via del Corso” in the center, with the monument of King Victor Emanuel II at the end, the “ Via del Babuino” on the left, and “Via Ripetta” on the right where we find the large ruins of the tomb of the emperor Augustus.
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