Until the end of the 19th century, when it assumed its current shape, Piazza del Popolo was a modest square with a trapezoidal shape.
At the time of the Napoleonic occupation, the architectural and urban aspect of the square was revised by the architect Giuseppe Valadier. Thanks to his intervention, the square assumed the current elliptical shape, completed by a double exedra, decorated with numerous fountains and statues.
In 1818, Valadier removed the old fountain of Giacomo Della Porta, and replaced it with a new structure – four fountains in the form of lions, around the base of the obelisk. Valadier continued its work of renewal the square by arranging also the slopes of the Pincian Hill, connecting Piazza del Popolo and the hill with wide ramps, adorned by trees.
Piazza del Popolo houses three churches. Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is the oldest one, located next to the gate with the same name, Porta del Popolo. The church was built in the 11th century by Pope Pasquale II, but was later rebuilt under Pope Sixtus IV, between 1472 and 1477.
The two twin churches on the southern part of the square are Santa Maria in Montesanto, built in 1675, and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, built in 1678, at the behest of Pope Alexander VII. The two buildings, which give the square a Baroque appearance, were completed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Fontana.
Porta del Popolo, located in the northern part of the square, was built between 1562 and 1565 by Nanni di Baccio Bigio, commissioned by Pope Pius IV.
The Flaminio Obelisk (Obelisco Flaminio) was placed at the center of the square in 1589 by Pope Sixtus V. The obelisk, 24 meters high, was built at the time of Pharaoh Ramesses II and brought to Rome under Emperor Augustus.
Two almost twin fountains are placed in the middle of the curved walls that delimit the ellipse of the square. The structure of the fountains is the same – a large basin at the base of the wall, in which the water flows from a semicircular basin shaped like a shell, resting on the wall itself.
At the top of the wall of each fountain, there is a pair of dolphins with twisted tails, while the statuary group in the center is the only difference between the two structures. On the western fountain, a statue of Neptune flanked by two tritons was placed, while on the eastern side, the group of rocks supports the statue of the Goddess Roma, flanked by the seated statues of Tiber and Aniene.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest Metro station is Flaminio, about 200 meters away. The closest bus stop is Piazzale Flaminio, on the bus Lines 61, 89, 120F, 150F, 160, 490, 495 and 591.
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