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Piazza Navona
City square
View from the south
View from the south
LocationRome, Italy
Click on the map for a fullscreen view
Coordinates: 41°53′56″N 12°28′23″E / 41.899°N 12.4731°E / 41.899; 12.4731

Piazza Navona (pronounced [ˈpjattsa naˈvoːna]) is a public open space in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the 1st century AD Stadium of Domitian and follows the form of the open space of the stadium in an elongated oval.[1] The ancient Romans went there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as "Circus Agonalis" ("competition arena"). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to navone and eventually to navona.

In the 17th century it became a showcase for Baroque design, with work by Bernini and Borromini among others. The Fountain Of Four Rivers stands in front of the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone.


Fountain of the Four Rivers
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
Fontana del Moro, on the southern end

The space currently occupied by the Piazza Navona was originally the Stadium of Domitian, built by Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus in 80 AD. Following the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, the stadium fell into ruin, being quarried for building materials. There are just a few remains of that today.

Defined as a public space in the last years of 15th century, when the city market was transferred there from the Campidoglio, Piazza Navona was transformed into a highly significant example of Baroque Roman architecture and art during the pontificate of Innocent X, who reigned from 1644 until 1655, and whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced the piazza. It features important sculptural creations: in the centre stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius;[2] the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi and others; and the aforementioned Pamphili palace, also by Girolamo Rainaldi, that accommodates the long gallery designed by Borromini and frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.[3]

Piazza Navona Flooded by Antonio Joli. Circa 1760

Piazza Navona has two other fountains. At the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which, in 1673, Bernini added a statue of a Moor, wrestling with a dolphin. At the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune (1574) also created by Giacomo della Porta; the statue of Neptune, by Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to create a balance with La Fontana del Moro.

During its history, the piazza has hosted theatrical events and other ephemeral activities. From 1652 until 1866, when the festival was suppressed, it was flooded on every Saturday and Sunday in August in elaborate celebrations of the Pamphili family. The pavement level was raised in the 19th century, and in 1869 the market was moved to the nearby Campo de' Fiori. A Christmas market is held in the piazza square each year from the first week of December until the first week of January.[4]

Piazza Navona by Paolo Salvati, 1962
Lieven Cruyl, the Piazza Navona during the Baroque

Other monuments

Literature and films


In the early hours of 3 September 2011, the Fontana del Moro was damaged by a vandal. Police later found the man, who had been captured on security cameras climbing in the fountain, wielding a large rock and decapitating some of the larger and smaller figures, after they recognised him by his shoes.[5][6]

See also


View of Piazza Navona by Hendrik Frans van Lint, c. 1730
  1. ^ Roth, Leland M. (1993). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History and Meaning (First ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. pp. 233. ISBN 0-06-430158-3.
  2. ^ Edward Chaney, "Roma Britannica and the Cultural Memory of Egypt: Lord Arundel and the Obelisk of Domitian", in Roma Britannica: Art Patronage and Cultural Exchange in Eighteenth-Century Rome, eds. D. Marshall, K. Wolfe and S. Russell, British School at Rome, 2011, pp. 147–70
  3. ^ Today the Palazzo Pamphili is the Brazilian Embassy in Rome
  4. ^ "Christmas Rome 2023: Christmas markets 2023 in Rome". Help Tourists in Rome. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
  5. ^ Vogel, Carol (5 September 2011). "Vandals, or at Least One, Sack a Roman Fountain". New York Times.
  6. ^ Willey, David (4 September 2011). "Rome monuments attacked by vandals". BBC. Retrieved 25 December 2013.


Preceded by
Piazza Farnese
Landmarks of Rome
Piazza Navona
Succeeded by
Piazza di Spagna