Piazza Navona

sights / Squares & plazas

Piazza Navona information

Rome , Italy
Getting there
Bus: Corso del Rinascimento
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With its ornate fountains, baroque palazzi (mansions) and colourful cast of street artists, hawkers and tourists, Piazza Navona is central Rome’s showcase square. Built over the 1st-century Stadio di Domiziano (Domitian’s Stadium), it was paved over in the 15th century and for almost 300 years hosted the city's main market. Its grand centrepiece, Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi , is an ornate, showy work depicting personifications of the rivers Nile, Ganges, Danube and Plate.

Legend has it that the figure of the Nile is shielding his eyes from the Chiesa di Sant'Agnese in Agone , designed by Bernini's bitter rival, Borromini. The more prosaic truth is that Bernini completed his fountain two years before his contemporary started work on the facade and the gesture simply indicates that the source of the Nile was unknown at the time.

At the northern end of the piazza is the 19th-century Fontana del Nettuno , while the Fontana del Moro to the south was designed in 1576. Bernini added the Moor holding a dolphin in the mid-17th century, and the surrounding Tritons are 19th-century copies.

The piazza's largest building is the 17th-century Palazzo Pamphilj , built for Pope Innocent X and now home to the Brazilian Embassy.