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Rome's Best  Piazzas, Fountains and Monuments

 

 

 

  

 Rome's Best Piazzas - Piazza Navona

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Piazza Navona

                            The Fountain of the Four Rivers and its monumental obelisk

The Piazza Navona is one of Rome's most famous squares. It occupies the former site of the Circus of Domitian, which explains the curious, stretched oval shape of the piazza. 

The Piazza is known for the  Bernini masterpiece the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi - 17th century), which is shown above and below. The installation is crowned with Obelisk of Domitian (cut  in Egypt during the 1st century AD) that was incorporated into the fountain's design as reminder of the historic links between the Emperor, his Circus and Piazza Navona.

        Close up of Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy   Close up of the detail in Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy

The human statues in Bernini's elegant fountain represent four rivers that in turn were used to symbolize the world's continents. The photograph to the left (above) shows a statue symbolizing the Ganges and the continent of Asia. The photograph on the right identifies the Nile, representing Africa. It is said that since the source (head) of the Nile was unknown at the time that Bernini's design required that the statue be created showing the head covered to indicate an unknown source. Others have suggested that Bernini did not want his statue to look at the adjacent facade of the Church Sant'Agnese, which was designed by Borromini, a contemporary who was disliked by Bernini (and who had originally received the commission to create a fountain in this location).

In the photograph at the top of this page, the statue with its back to you (in the center) represents the Danube representing Europe and the figure to the left symbolizes the Rio de la Plata and the Americas.
             

At the north end of the Piazza Navona, in front of the Palazzo Pamphilj is the delightful Fountain of the Moor. The Moor capturing a dolphin is credited as a Bernini design and dating from the  17th century. The tritons were added more recently.

Bernini's Fountain of the Moor in Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy

Piazza Navona is one of the more active squares in Rome.  It has a number of outdoor cafes, street merchants,  buskers  and more.  It is a great place for a break, a snack and people watching.  It is also a great place for pickpockets, so be sure to read our guide to personal safety and security -  wearing a money belt is good advice during any vacation travel.

 


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