Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy
In pre-Christian Rome, there was a racetrack here like the Circus Maximus, but now it is an open piazza, with fountains, shops, and cafes to delight your senses. A 5-10 minute stroll from the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.
There are so many things which make Piazza Navona such an interesting place. For me one of the most facinating is
The church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.
Sant’ Agnese in Agone is a seventeenth century Baroque church. It faces onto the Piazza Navona and is the site where the Early Christian Saint Agnes was martyred in the ancient Stadium of Domitian.
A step inside reveals a treasure of art, especially, the statue of St. Agnes. You can see the flames , which were to consume her, parting to spare her life.
For many the gem of the Piazza Navona is The Fountain of the Four Rivers designed by Bernini. It depicts Gods of the four great rivers in the four continents as then recognized by the Renaissance geographers: the Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Danube in Europe and the Río de la Plata in America.
Each location is further enhanced by animals and plants of that country.
The Ganges carries a long oar, representing the river’s navigability.
The Nile‘s head is draped with a loose piece of cloth, meaning that no one at that time knew exactly where the Nile’s source was.
The Danube touches the Papal coat of arms, since it is the largest river closest to Rome.
Río de la Plata is sitting on a pile of coins, a symbol of the riches America might offer to Europe (the word plata means silver in Spanish).
Each River God is semi-prostrate, in awe of the central tower, epitomized by the slender Egyptian obelisk (built for the Roman Serapeum in AD 81), symbolizing Papal power and surmounted by the Pamphilj symbol of the dove.
I particularly like to schedule a visit to the Piazza Navona for my clients on their arrival day in Rome. If there is four hours available after they arrive a tour of the Piazza Navona is ideal. Many of the best sites in Rome are within 300 yards of Piazza Navona.
- The Church of St. Agnes
- There is an amazing story of an 11-year-old girl who was martyred on the orders of the cruel Emperor Domitian. Your Rome tour guide will give you the whole story and, if you’re lucky, you will be able to go underneath the sanctuary to see where this evil deed occurred.
- The French National Church – San Luigi dei Francesi
- Sant’ Andrea della Valle
- Pallazo Massimo alle Colonne
- Museo di Roma