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Piazza Navonain Rome, Italy

#33of 58 places to visitin Rome

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Former stadium at Julius Caesar's time, now, this rectangular area, with its palaces, churches and fountains is a favorite vacation spot of locals.
Piazza Navona, Rome
Long-drawn square Piazza Navona is hiding in the very center of Rome in the maze of Italian narrow streets. Here spectacular fountains are rushing, street entertainers and musicians give performances, multilingual guides get groups of tourists familiar with the history of the square. Here you can take a seat at the cafe's table to have a cup of cappuccino and spend time enjoying the pulse of life in the center of Italian capital.

Piazza Navona, Rome
Photo: Piazza Navona, © shutter_lust@flickr

It is one of the most lively squares in Rome where you can find plenty of cafes open-air, restaurants and night clubs. By night the suquare is overcrowded, but if you want to see real beauty of the square come here early in the morning when it is empty of people.

Piazza Navona history

The history of the square traces back a half of a century BC. At that time Caesar ordered to construct a stadium for sports competition and chariot races. In 85 the then ruler Domitianus gave an order to extend the construction. Renewed almost 300-meter long and 100-meter wide arena could hold 30 thousand fans of antique times. Till IV century AD fistfightings, discus throwing and running competitions used to take place here.

In the Middle Ages arcades on the outside with brothels and traders' stalls inside were demolished. New houses were built on the remained foundations and the former arena turned into a fabulous square where from the end of XV century till the latter part of XIX century market was prospering. And Piazza Navona again turned into the place of tournaments, city festivals and puppet performances and neighboring houses became residences for notable people.

Piazza Navona sights

Piazza Navona is called the Square of three fountains:

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in the center of the square

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Rome
Photo: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, © su-lin@flickr

Fontana del Moro at the southern part of the square

Fontana del Moro, Rome
Photo: Fontana del Moro, © Rafael Jiménez

Fontana del Nettuno at the northern part

Piazza Navona fountain, Rome
Photo: Fontana del Nettuno, © altotemi

In front of the Fountain of the Four Rivers you can see Sant'Agnese in Agone church.

Sant'Agnese in Agone, Rome
Photo: Sant'Agnese in Agone, © hiwhataboutyou@flickr

Not far from Sant'Agnese in Agone church you can see Palazzo Pamphilj constructed in XVII century by achitect mannerist Rainaldi. Now the Embassy of Brazil is situated here.

Palazzo Pamphili, Rome
Photo: Palazzo Pamphili

In the north of Piazza Navona there is Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore cathedral. It was constructed in honour of Most Holy Mother of God at the ruins of dominican stadium in XVI century. Fernando III de Castilla funded the construction of the basilica. From XVI till XVII the church on Piazza Navona was considered to be the national Spanish church.

Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore, Rome
Photo: Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore

If you are interested in traditions of the city life in different historical periods - you can visit the Museum of Rome on Piazza Navona. Here collections of books, photographs, household items and clothes are kept.

What to do here

Nowadays Piazza Navona is a fabulous walking square where the locals take an evening promenade. Piazza Navona in Rome is never deserted. Not only architectural masterpieces and fabulous fountins draw travellers to this place. Piazza Navona is also a fashion place. If you want to see creations of young Italian desighners - in neighboring boutiques you'll definitely find some of them.

Street painters in Piazza Navona, Rome
Photo: Street painters in Piazza Navona, © MariaCarla F

Till the late night the life is on here. On Piazza Navona you'll find artists painting and selling their pictures, musicians, mime artist and other street entertainers performing. Children are running around and the locals are exchanging the latest news. All round Piazza Navona in Rome there are restaurants and cafes. You can have a meal here, but don't be surprised when you find it overprised. Here you can taste well-known dessert Tartufo - ice cream truffle.

Piazza Navona, Rome
Photo: Piazza Navona, © shutter_lust@flickr

How to get

Elegant Piazza Navona is located in the historical center of Rome in the west to the Pantheon. Finding the square won't be difficult - it is situated between the most visited sights of Rome. You can take bus 56, 60, 85, 116, 492 to get here.

Piazza Navona on the map

Location: Piazza Navona, Rome

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Guest15 April 2024

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Photo credit © https://www.flickr.com/photos/vasnic64/