Piazza Navona is one of the most famous and beautiful squares in Rome. The large and lively square features three spectacular fountains and the Baroque church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.
The square is built on the former Stadium of Domitian, built by Emperor Domitian in 86 AD. Due to long, oval shape of the square it was mainly used for festivals and sporting events. The stadium was known as ‘Competition Arena’ but then the name changed to ‘Navona’. In the fifteenth century the stadium was paved over to create the Navona square, but remnants of Domitian’s stadium are still visible around the area.
Trio of famous fountains
The main attraction of Piazza Navona is the trio of fountains that adorn the square. The central and largest fountain is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). It was constructed between 1647 and 1651 on request of pope Innocent X. The design of the fountain was first commissioned to Borromini, but it was ultimately handed to his rival Bernini. The fountain features four figures, each representing a river from a different continent – the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata. The statues are at the base of a rock supporting an obelisk, originally located at the Circus Maximus, near the Appian Way.
The two other fountains on the piazza are the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune fountain) at the northern end and the Fontana del Moro (Moor fountain) at the southern end of the square.
The Fontana del Nettuno, also known as the Calderari, was built in 1576 by Giacomo della Porta. The statues of Neptune surrounded by sea nymphs were added in the nineteenth century. Giacomo della Porta also built the Fontana del Moro. The central statue of a Moor holding a dolphin, a design by Bernini, was added in the seventeenth century. The tritons are nineteenth-century additions.
Location: Piazza Navona, 00186, Rome
Nearby sights: Fountain of the Four Rivers, Palazzo Altemps, Pantheon
How to get there: Subway: Colosseo (B)
Nearby hotels: Relais al Senato, Navona Suites, Relais Navona 71