Commissioned to celebrate the Barberini family’s rise to papal power, this sumptuous baroque palace impresses even before you view its breathtaking art collection. Many high-profile architects worked on it, including rivals Bernini and Borromini; the former contributed a square staircase, the latter a helicoidal one. Amid the masterpieces on display, don’t miss Filippo Lippi’s Annunciazione (Annunciation; 1440–45) and Pietro da Cortona’s ceiling fresco Il Trionfo della Divina Provvidenza (The Triumph of Divine Providence; 1632–39).
Other must-sees include Hans Holbein’s famous portrait of a pugnacious Henry VIII (c 1540) and Raphael’s La Fornarina (The Baker’s Girl; c 1520), thought to be a portrait of his mistress, who worked in a bakery in Trastevere. Works by Caravaggio include San Francesco d’Assisi in meditazione (St Francis in Meditation; 1606), Narciso (Narcissus; 1597–98) and the mesmerisingly horrific Giuditta e Oloferne (Judith Beheading Holophernes; c 1598–99). Other artistic giants represented include El Greco, Giovanni Bellini, Beccafumi and Perugino.
The museum is part of the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, and your entrance ticket includes entrance to another of its properties, the Galleria Corsini in Trastevere.