Piazza Navona

Interesting Facts

  1. During their active time, the architect behind the church, Borromini, and the fountain sculptor Bernini, were two bitter rivals.
  2. The site was paved in the 15th century and became officially the Navona square – one of the city marketplaces.
  3. The man responsible for the way the piazza looks today is mainly Pope Innocent the 10th.
  4. It was built by Emperor Domitian in year 86 AD and was mainly used for festivals and sporting events.
  5. Over time, the name “Circus Agonalis” is believed to have changed towards “in Agone”, later “Navone” and eventually to today’s “Navona”.

Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s most beautiful squares. It houses several Baroque masterpieces; each one of them impressive on their own. The square is dominated by three large fountains, which together with a church and its harmonious surroundings, creates an enchanting and vibrant oasis in the heart of Rome.

Foutain of the Four Rivers

The main attraction of Piazza Navona is the trio of fountains that adorn the square. The central and largest fountain is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). It was constructed between 1647 and 1651 on request of pope Innocent X. The design of the fountain was first commissioned to Borromini, but it was ultimately handed to his rival Bernini. The fountain features four figures, each representing a river from a different continent - the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata. The statues are at the base of a rock supporting an obelisk, originally located at the Circus of Maxentius, near the Appian Way.

Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone

Another highlight at Navona square is the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. It was commissioned in 1652 by Pope Innocent X and built on the site where according to legend, St. Agnes was stripped naked, but miraculously saved from disgrace by extraordinary growth of hair. The front facade of the Baroque church was designed by Borromini, Bernini's main rival. Construction started just two years after the completion of Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers, right in front of the building. The church was completed in 1670.

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