About Piazza Navona
The street artists, painters, and musicians of the area add a lively atmosphere to the square that makes the place more attractive to visitors. The piazza is constructed on an ancient stadium of Rome, the Stadium of Domitian - where different athletic contests, sports, and festivals were performed and people used to gather there to enjoy those events.
In the last years of the 15th century, the place was declared as a public space and Novena Square was constructed. The square is oval-shaped and that’s because of the original shape of the stadium. Along with the luxurious architectural delights and history of the place, the square attracts people from different parts of the world to experience scenic beauty and artworks.
A huge number of visitors also come to experience a pleasant hang out in a decorated piazza with tasty drinks or meals from the many restaurants that line the piazza and also enjoy the shopping in the nearby city market.
How to Reach Piazza Navona
There are three different ways to reach the Piazza Navona from the nearest Airport Ciampino, such as bus, train, and taxi.
The train is the cheapest way to reach the closest location of the Piazza; the train ticket costs about 1.5€ for a one-way.
If you like to take a bus ride, the buses are departing every 30 minutes for the bus terminal and it costs 7.90€. Some of the transport companies also offer hop-on-hop-off bus tickets to the piazza and that actually stops the visitor just one block away from the plaza.
If you want to avoid these public transports, you can also go for the quickest route with a Ciampino airport taxi which costs around 44€. Generally, a flat rate for a taxi is fixed by the city for all passengers in the vehicle and their bags and the taxi directly stops at the center. It is illegal for drivers to charge more than the fixed fare.
Best Time to Visit Piazza Navona
Every season has its own beauty in Piazza Navona; this place is welcoming the tourists throughout the year with some special attraction. However the best time to visit this excellent piazza is during springtime which means mid of March to May and again in autumn, which means mid September to November to offer perfect weather to the visitors.
Along with the comfortable weather for exploration, these months also have comparatively thin crowds, which allow the visitors to enjoy the sightseeing much more comfortable. Though for a budget trip to this Piazza, winter is the ideal option to visit Rome.
As the piazza is enriched with historic spots, excellent fountains, and architecture, early morning and evening after just sunset can be the best time to visit the place. During these periods, the crowd remains comparatively less and you can have sufficient room to get a good look at everything. Therefore, hours between morning 7 am – 10 am and evening between 5 pm – 8 pm is considered as a good time to visit the piazza.
What Not to Miss at Piazza Navona
The square is visually attractive to the whole world mainly for the accumulation of lavish fountains in the different directions of it. All three fountains are amazing architectures enhancing the beauty of the piazza.
1. La Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
This is also known as the Fountain of Four Rivers situated at the center of the Piazza; this fountain was designed by Bernini in 1651. This fountain has its own significance; it is created around a slender Egyptian obelisk surmounted by a dove with an olive twig, the central structure is surrounded by four river gods representing the four major rivers of the four continents.
The whole fountain is placed on a basin and from the center of the basin four travertine rocks rise to support the four sculptures representing river gods, the Ganges in Asia, the Río de la Plata in America, the Danube in Europe, and the Nile in Africa.
The fountain is considered as the most complex one among all the fountains in Rome. The marble made river gods in the fountain are accompanied by flowers and seven animals to make it more beautiful; here you can find a horse, a sea monster, a serpent, a dolphin, a crocodile, a lion, and a dragon.
2. Fontana del Moro
This fountain, also known as the Fountain of the Moor, is situated at the southern end of the square. The reason behind such nomenclature of the fountain is the presence of a moor standing in a conch shell and riding on a dolphin. This main sculpture is surrounded by four Tritons; the whole structure is placed on a basin made of rose-colored marble.
The fountain was created in 1575 by Giacomo Della Porta only with the dolphin and four Tritons. Later in 1653, Gian Lorenzo Bernini constructed the statue of the Moor and added to the fountain structure. In 1874, the fountain was restored and the original statues were moved to the Galleria Borghese and the fountain was furnished with substitute copies of the original sculptures.
3. Fontana di Nettuno
This fountain is also known as Fountain of Neptune; this is situated at the northern end of the Piazza Navona. Initially, this fountain was also created without the sculpture of Neptune, by Giacomo Della Porta in the year 1574.
Then the basin of the fountain was known as Fontana del Nettuno (without the sculptures), and then its construction was sponsored by pope Gregory XIII. The lower part of the basin consisted of white marble and the upper part of it was made of local stone from Pietrasanta.
For the next 300 years, the fountain was without any statue; in 1878, Antonio della Bitta created the sculpture of Neptune and added the statue of Neptune fighting with an octopus. Gregorio Zappalà created the other sculptures according to the mythological theme of the Nereids with Cupids and walruses and completed the whole fountain as visible today.
Attractions near Piazza Navona
This is a former Roman temple that is now converted into a Catholic church (Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs). This is one of the popular historic sites of Rome, built around 126-128 A.D. The site is also an important burial place of the painters Raphael and Annibale Carracci, and the architect Baldassare Peruzzi.
2. Campo de’ Fiori
This is a rectangular-shaped piazza located in the southward direction of Piazza Navona. This square is a popular market place to do some shopping in Rome.
3. Castel Sant’Angelo
One of the popular historic buildings of Rome, used as a military installation center as well as an escape route for the pope in case of danger.
4. The Mausoleum of Augustus
This is a historic tomb built in 28 BC during the ruling period of Roman Emperor Augustus. In the initial starting years of the 20th century, the interior of the Mausoleum of Augustus was a place to be used as a concert hall called the “Augusteo”. Later in 1930s, the hall was closed by Mussolini and reopened after the restoration as an archaeological site.
5. The Trevi Fountain
This fountain is placed close to the square, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and Giuseppe Pannini. This is the largest fountain in Rome and also one of the most famous fountains. The fountain is about 85 feet tall in height and 65 feet wide. The fountain was established between 1600 to 1750 and is famous as an excellent instance of Baroque art in Italy.
6. The Spanish Steps
This is a set of steps to climb the steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Trinità dei Monti. Trinità dei Monti and Obelisco Sallustiano are situated on the top of the Spanish steps. John Keats Museum is located at the right corner and at the bottom you can find a 17th century Fountain, Fontana della Barcaccia. At the foot of the Steps, you can also have a number of small boutique designer shops and a wide range of restaurants and bars.
Other Essential Information About Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Distance from Nearest Airport:
The nearest airport to Piazza Navona is Rome Ciampino (CIA) Airport. which is 15 km away from the Piazza. Another connecting airport close to the Piazza is Rome Airport (FCO). The distance between Rome Airport (FCO) and Piazza Navona is about 22 km. By road, you need to travel about 30.7 km to reach Piazza from FCO.
Though the Piazza is always open for the visitors, early morning and evening is a good time to visit the piazza to avoid overcrowding. To enjoy the Piazza most, consider arriving between the opening hours of 7 am – 10 am or can even come between 5 pm – 8 pm.
There is no entry fee to visit Piazza Navona; this is open to all and requires no ticket.
History of Piazza Navona
The remnants of the ancient stadium are still present in different parts of the piazza. From 1652 to 1866, the piazza was a great cultural site hosting theatrical events and other entertaining activities. In the middle of the 19th century, the pavement level of the Piazza was raised.
Then a Christmas market used to be held in the piazza square. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, three lavish fountains were built up in different directions of Piazza. The fountains were modified in different periods of history and till date attracting visitors from different corners of the world.
What makes Piazza Navona Famous
Piazza Navona is quite popular for its luxurious scenic beauty and that makes it interesting to the movie makers to exhibit in their films. The piazza is featured in a number of movies; some of the notable instances are
- Dan Brown's thriller movie “Angels & Demons”, in which the Fountain of Four Rivers is exhibited as one of the Altars of Science. Apart from the fountain, the southern section of the piazza has featured in several scenes of the film.
- The fountain of four rivers was also in the film Coins in the Fountain released in 1990. Here the characters of the movie threw coins into the fountain to make a wish.
- The square is also featured in National Lampoon's European Vacation, released in 1985.
- In Italian comedy film Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, the actress Sophia Loren’s character stays in a second-floor apartment and from there she was observing the Piazza Navona in Rome.
- The piazza was also featured in Once Upon A Crime, a film by Eugene Levy.
Some of the literature also has been plotted several scenes in the piazza, such as Joseph Heller's novel, Catch-22.
Architecture of Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is an excellent creation of genius Bernini and Borromini; this is one of the best Masterpieces of 17th-century Baroque architecture in Rome. The whole Piazza exhibits a well-planned harmony of construction and colors.
The architects have enhanced its elegance by the surprising contrast of visually classy houses alternating with a number of monumental Buildings along with proper placement of architecturally sober fountains. As this famous piazza of Rome is constructed on an ancient stadium, it has been constructed in monumental style by the Pope Innocent X and decedents (Pamphili).
The piazza is evidence of the Roman architectural style practiced in the 17th century. Different architects have contributed to the development of the square; the design of Sant' Agnese church was of Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi, and others.
The Fountain of the Moor was designed by Giacomo Della Porta and four rivers fountain was created by Bernini in early 1650 that enhances the beauty of the square. The northern end of the square is decorated with the Fountain of Neptune created in 1574 and this was also designed by Giacomo Della Porta.
The statue of Neptune was added years after the actual creation of the fountain; the statue was created by Antonio Della Bitta and added in 1878 to create symmetry with La Fontana del Moro.
Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone
The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone is one of the main tourist attractions in Piazza Navona. The Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone sits on the Piazza as a memorial of Sant'Agnese, the virgin saint, who was forced to expose herself before her death.
The skull of the saint is housed inside the church in an altar and her body is buried at Sant'Agnese Fuori Le Mura. This church is constructed following a special form of architecture known as the 17th-century Baroque style. The construction of the church started in 1652 and the architects of this fabulous construction were Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi.
It took a long time to finish and it was completed under the leadership of Francesco Borromini. The interior of the church is decorated with exclusive paintings, frescoes, large-scale sculptures, and so on. It has special significance to the believer of Christianity as it contains the skull of Saint Agnese preserved inside an altar.
The church also contains many other martyrdom of saints, such as Martyrdom of Saint Eustace by Melchiorre Cafà, Martyrdom of Saint Emerentiana by Ercole Ferrata, Death of Saint Cecilia by Antonio Raggi, and so on.
Apart from religious services, the church is engaged in arranging regular classical concerts in the Borromini Sacristy, where one can experience a wide range of art forms including sacred Baroque works to chamber music and operas.