This massive piazza was laid out in 1538 to provide a grandiose entrance to what was then Rome's main northern gateway. It has since been remodelled several times, most recently by Giuseppe Valadier in 1823.
Standing sentinel at its southern approach are Carlo Rainaldi's twin 17th-century churches, Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Basilica di Santa Maria in Montesanto. In the centre, the 36m-high obelisk was brought by Augustus from ancient Egypt; it originally stood in the Circo Massimo.
On the northern flank, the Porta del Popolo was created by Bernini in 1655 to celebrate Queen Christina of Sweden's defection to Catholicism, while rising to the east is the viewpoint of the Pincio Hill Gardens.