Piazza Navona

Coordinates: 41°53′56″N 12°28′23″E / 41.89889°N 12.47306°E / 41.89889; 12.47306

Piazza Navona looking northwards
The Piazza looking south
Fountain of the four Rivers with Egyptian obelisk, in the middle of Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is a city square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium.[1] The ancient Romans came there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as 'Circus Agonalis' (competition arena). It is believed that over time the name changed to 'in agone' to 'navone' and eventually to 'navona'.



Defined as a public space in the last years of 15th century, when the city market was transferred to it from the Campidoglio, the Piazza Navona was transformed into a highly significant example of Baroque Roman architecture and art during the pontificate of Innocent X, who reigned from 1644-1655, and whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced onto the piazza. It features important sculptural and architectural creations: in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought here in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius [2] the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi and others; and the aforementioned Pamphili palace, also by Girolamo Rainaldi, that accommodates the long gallery designed by Borromini and frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.[3]

The Piazza Navona has two additional fountains: at the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which, in 1673, Bernini added a statue of a Moor, or African, wrestling with a dolphin, and at the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune (1574) created by Giacomo della Porta. The statue of Neptune in the northern fountain, the work of Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to make that fountain more symmetrical with La Fontana del Moro in the south.

At the southwest end of the piazza is the ancient 'speaking' statue of Pasquino. Erected in 1501, Romans could leave lampoons or derogatory social commentary attached to the statue.

During its history, the piazza has hosted theatrical events and other ephemeral activities. From 1652 until 1866, when the festival was suppressed, it was flooded on every Saturday and Sunday in August in elaborate celebrations of the Pamphilj family. The pavement level was raised in the 19th century and the market was moved again in 1869 to the nearby Campo de' Fiori. A Christmas market is held in the piazza.

Other monuments

Literature and films


In the early hours of Saturday, 3rd September 2011, the Fontana del Moro was damaged by a vandal. Police later found the man, who had been captured on security cameras climbing in the fountain, wielding a large rock and decapitating some of the smaller figures, after they recognised him by his sneakers.[4][5]


  1. ^ Roth, Leland M. (1993). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History and Meaning (First ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. pp. 233. ISBN 0-06-430158-3. 
  2. ^ Edward Chaney, "Roma Britannica and the Cultural Memory of Egypt: Lord Arundel and the Obelisk of Domitian", in Roma Britannica: Art Patronage and Cultural Exchange in Eighteenth-Century Rome, eds. D. Marshall, K. Wolfe and S. Russell, British School at Rome, 2011, pp. 147–70;
  3. ^ Today the Palazzo Pamphili is the Brazilian Embassy in Rome
  4. ^ Solaro, Andreas (3 September 2011). "Rome police seek fountain vandal". AFP. http://uk.news.yahoo.com/rome-police-seek-fountain-vandal-164456456.html. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Vogel, Carol (5 September 2011). "Vandals, or at Least One, Sack a Roman Fountain". The New York Times. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/05/vandals-or-at-least-one-sack-a-roman-fountain. 


  • Norwich, John Julius, ed (1988). The World Atlas of Architecture. New York: Portland House. p. 302. ISBN 0-517-66875-0. 
  • Rendina, Claudio, ed (2003) (in Italian). La Grande Enciclopedia di Roma (2nd ed.). Rome: Newton & Compton. ISBN 88-8289-316-2. 
  • Roth, Leland M. (1993). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. p. 233. ISBN 0-06-430158-3. 

External links

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