Piazza del Popolo
It is the last great and one of the most spectacular works of papal Rome; the vast space is wisely orchestrated in all aspects: from urban planning to architectural and street furniture. It is connected to the Vatican by Via Cola di Rienzo, one of the most important shopping streets in the center of Rome where there is the Bed and Breakfast The Center of Rome. In addition to constituting the monumental “vestibule” of the city, Piazza del Popolo is one of the best expressions of the artistic and sacred wonders of historic Rome.
In the sixteenth century, the hypothesis of the fan opened in the center of Rome and placed on the square converging to the door was devised. In 1572 Pope Gregory the seventh had the first public fountain in Rome, considered modern for those times, erected in the center of Piazza del Popolo. Alexander the seventh renovated the church of Santa Maria del Popolo and approved the project for the twin churches at the entrance to via del Corso. The entire square did not undergo any changes until the early nineteenth century at the time when the architect Valadier designed the final design which was later modified by the prefect De Tournon. Valadier built the buildings near the gate and gave shape to the base of the obelisk. The square was a sort of scenic and monumental representation of Rome and was used in the past for fairs, shows and parties and also for capital executions.
CHURCHES AND MONUMENTS
In the center of Piazza del Popolo is the Flaminian obelisk which is the oldest and highest in Rome after the Lateran one. It is a high granite monolith that was built by pharaoh Ramsses second in 1200 BC and, subsequently, brought to the “eternal” city by the emperor Augustus. The architect Valadier arranged to decorate it with a base with four circular basins and Egyptian-style lions. In the square there are two travertine fountains in the shape of shells representing the “Goddess Rome between the Tiber and the Aniene” towards the Pincio and towards the river “Neptune between two Tritons”. The hemicycles, adorned with Ceccarini’s Sphinxes, are adorned with “statues of the four seasons”. Architect Valadier also constructs the buildings that house the famous Caffè Rosati and Canova. Our Bed and Breakfast located in Rome Center is close to Piazza del Popolo and its monuments.
SANTA MARIA DEL POPOLO
Pope Sixtus the fourth provided for its construction and, subsequently, Bernini brought some innovations to it, such as the modification of the windows and the rose window, adding candelabra to the tympanum and the mountains with the pope’s star. It presents a tripartite arrangement, with a clear internal division. Next to the dome, the brick bell tower was erected, unique for the conical cusp in terracotta and for the four corner pinnacles which present clear Gothic elements originating from the Po valley. Bernini replaced the original mullioned windows with the current ones, created the two choirs in the transept and added large altars. On the cornice that connects the walls there are stucco statues of saints, while the rose window is composed of two angels by Ercole Ferrara. The right aisle of the church of Santa Maria del Popolo has a chapel that consists of an elegant balustrade by Andrea Bragno while the frescoes depicting scenes from the life of San Girolamo are by the pupil of Pinturicchio Tiberio of Assisi. In the same nave there is also the “Immaculate conception and saints” by Carlo Maratta, executed in oil while the underlying angels in gilded bronze and the urn are by Francesco Cavallini. Piazza del Popolo Also in the right aisle are the “scenes of the life of Mary and Saints “with particular frescoes with clear illusionistic intent by Antonio da Viterbo and d ‘Assisi and a frescoed decoration from the school of Pinturicchio. In the left aisle there is a chapel with a wooden crucifix from the sixteenth century and frescoes by Pieter van Lint, the busts of Urbano and Mario Melini with the “monument of Cardinal Garcia Mellini” in the center. Lorenzetto in 1513 began, based on a design by Raffaello da Agostino Chigi, a space with harmonious proportions and a central plan that is devoid of ornaments on the outside, but is very rich in it on the inside; clear inspiration from Bramante’s style. Luigi De Pace executed the mosaics of the dome that make up the work of the “God creator of the firmament with around the symbols of the Sun and the seven planets” each guided by an angel belonging to a specific order, the latter of undoubted Dante’s inspiration . Of particular importance are the scenes of the Creation and of original sin and the rounds of the pendentives depicting the seasons by Franceso Salviati in 1550. The side walls present the pyramid-shaped tombs of Agostino and Sigismondo Chigi designed by Chigi with subsequent modifications by Bernini. The containers for holy water are precious for their composition of fifteenth-century sculptures by Bregno. As regards the main altar, this was created at the behest of Cardinal Antonio Sauli and has a rich golden stucco decoration of the arch constituting the “Legend of the foundation of the church”. In it appears the Madonna del Popolo, a Byzantine table from the early thirteenth century which is the oldest work of the church. The choir was transformed by Bramante in two different phases: the first is the oldest one, while the second, having the shape of a sail, is attributable to the period of the papacy of Julius II between 1505 and 1509. The walls are they find the monuments of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza and Cardinal Girolamo Della Rovere from 1507 by the artist Andrea Sansovino.
THE TWIN CHURCHES IN PIAZZA DEL POPOLO
One side of the square opens into the three streets of via Ripetta, via del Corso and via del Babbuino which represent a trident created on the inspiration of European Baroque-style urban planning. From here stand two apparently identical churches of Santa Maria di Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli. With their construction, the fourth Pope Alexander completed the changes in the Baroque style of the square and definitively consecrated the latter to the Virgin. The two basilicas were modified by Carlo Fontana and Gian Lorenzo Bernini on the basis of the differences in plan; the first circular with an octagonal dome, the second elliptical with a decagonal dome for the other. As for the church of Santa Maria in Montesanto, it was begun in 1662 and then resumed several times later under the direction of the architect Carlo Fontana and the control of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who worked out the final project. The interior of the basilica appears of refined taste and has an elliptical plan with a deep presbytery. In the dome there are statues of saints whose construction was entrusted to Filippo Carcani. On the main altar appears the work of Tommaso Mattei of the “Vergina di Montesanto”. Of particular importance are “The Virgin with the Child”, the apparition of Christ to the Virgin, I SS. Francesco and Giacomo Maggiore by Carlo Maratta. The Charity of St. James is by Daniele Seiter and the fresco of the Glory of the Virgin is by Giuseppe Chiari. Santa Maria dei Miracoli, on the other hand, was built in 1675 by Carlo Rainaldi and continued later by the Fontana. Girolamo Theodoli erected the refined eighteenth-century style bell tower. The interior of the church is circular, has, like the twin basilica, a deep presbytery and has four chapels. Carlo Fontana was responsible for the funeral monuments of Cardinal Girolamo Gastaldi and his brother Benedetto, with bronze busts by Girolamo Lucenti.
From our Bed and Breakfast Rome center you can reach Piazza del Popolo in 5 minutes on foot.