Piazza del Popolo is a large urban square in Rome. The name in modern Italian literally means "People's Square", but historically it derives from the poplars (populus in Latin, pioppo in Italian) after which the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the northeast corner of the piazza, takes its name.
The piazza lies inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, once the Porta Flaminia of ancient Rome, and now called the Porta del Popolo. This was the starting point of the Via Flaminia, the road to Ariminum (modern-day Rimini) and the most important route to the north. At the same time, before the age of railroads, it was the traveller's first view of Rome upon arrival. For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826.
The layout of the piazza today was designed in neoclassical style between 1811 and 1822 by the architect Giuseppe Valadier,He removed a modest fountain by Giacomo Della Porta, erected in 1572, and demolished some insignificant buildings and haphazard high screening walls to form two semicircles, reminiscent of Bernini's plan for St. Peter's Square, replacing the original cramped trapezoidal square centred on the Via Flaminia.
Valadier's Piazza del Popolo, however, incorporated the verdure of trees as an essential element; he conceived his space in a third dimension, expressed in the building of the viale that leads up to the balustraded overlook from the Pincio (above, right).
An Egyptian obelisk of Sety I (later erected by Rameses II) from Heliopolis stands in the centre of the Piazza. Three sides of the obelisk were carved during the reign of Sety I and the fourth side, under Rameses II. The obelisk, known as the Flaminio Obelisk or the Popolo Obelisk, is the second oldest and one of the tallest obelisks in Rome (some 24 m high, or 36 m including its plinth). The obelisk was brought to Rome in 10 BC by order of Augustus and originally set up in the Circus Maximus. It was re-erected here in the piazza by the architect-engineer Domenico Fontana in 1589 as part of the urban plan of Sixtus V. The piazza also formerly contained a central fountain, which was moved to the Piazza Nicosia in 1818, when fountains, in the form of Egyptian-style lions, were added around the base of the obelisk.
Looking from the north (illustration, right), three streets branch out from the piazza into the city, forming the so-called "trident" (il Tridente): the Via del Corso in the centre; the Via del Babuino to the left (opened in 1525 as the Via Paolina) and the Via di Ripetta (opened by Leo X in 1518 as the Via Leonina) to the right. The twin churches (the chiese gemelle) of Santa Maria dei Miracoli (1681) and Santa Maria in Montesanto (1679), begun by Carlo Rainaldi and completed by Bernini and Carlo Fontana, define the junctions of the roads. Close scrutiny of the twin churches reveals that they are not mere copies of one another, as they would have been in a Neoclassical project, but vary in their details, offering variety within their symmetrical balance in Baroque fashion.
The central street, now known as the Via del Corso, was the ancient Via Lata, and to the north it links with the ancient Roman road, the Via Flaminia, beyond the city gate and southwards, to the Piazza Venezia (formerly the Piazza San Marco), the Capitol and the forum. The Via di Ripetta leads past the Mausoleum of Augustus to the River Tiber, where the Baroque riverside landing called the Porto di Ripetta was located until it was destroyed in the late 19th century. The Via del Babuino ("Baboon"), linking to Piazza di Spagna, takes its name from a grotesque sculpture of Silenus that gained the popular name of "the Baboon".
To the north of the piazza stands the Porta del Popolo, beyond which lies the Piazzale Flaminio and the start of the Via Flaminia. The gateway was reworked to give its current appearance by Bernini for Pope Alexander VII in 1655, to welcome Queen Christina of Sweden to Rome following her conversion to Roman Catholicism and her abdication.Opposite Santa Maria del Popolo stands a Carabinieri station, with a dome reflecting that of the church.
In his urbanistic project, Valadier constructed the matching palazzi that provide a frame for the scenography of the twin churches and hold down two corners of his composition. He positioned a third palazzo to face these and matched a low structure screening the flank of Santa Maria del Popolo, with its fine Early Renaissance façade, together holding down the two northern corners. Valadier outlined this newly defined oval forecourt to the city of Rome with identical sweeps of wall, forming curving exedra-like spaces. Behind the western one, a screen of trees masks the unassorted fronts of buildings beyond.
The aqueduct carrying the Acqua Vergine Nuovo was completed in the 1820s, and its water provided the opportunity for fountains and their basins that offered the usual public water supply for the rioneor urban district. Ever since the Renaissance such terminal fountains also provided an occasion for the grand terminal water show called in Rome a mostra or a show. "What makes a fountain a mostra is not essentially its size or splendor, but its specific designation as the fountain that is a public memorial to the whole achievement of the aqueduct."Valadier had planned fountains in the upper tier of the Pincio slope, but these were not carried out, in part for lack of water.
Fountains by Giovanni Ceccarini (1822–23), with matching compositions of a central figure flanked by two attendant figures, stand on each side of the piazza to the east and west, flanked by neoclassical statues of The Seasons (1828).The Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) stands on the west side, Neptune with his trident is accompanied by two tritons. Rome between the Tiber and the Aniene on the east side, against the steep slope of the Pincio, represents the terminal mostra of the aqueduct. Dea Roma armed with lance and helmet, and in front is the she-wolf feeding Romulus and Remus.
At the center of the piazza is the Fontana dell' Obelisco: a group of four mini fountains, each comprising a lion on a stepped plinth, surround the obelisk.
Valadier's masterstroke was in linking the piazza with the heights of the Pincio, the Pincian Hill of ancient Rome, which overlooked the space from the east. He swept away informally terraced gardens that belonged to the Augustinian monastery connected with Santa Maria del Popolo. In its place he created a carriage drive that doubled back upon itself and pedestrian steps leading up beside a waterfall to the Pincio park, where a balustraded lookout, supported by a triple-arched nymphaeum is backed by a wide gravelled opening set on axis with the piazza below; formally planted bosquets of trees flank the open space. The planted Pincio in turn provides a link to the Villa Borghese gardens.
Until quite recently[ specify ], the Piazza del Popolo was choked with traffic in a sea of car parking. Today, it is a pedestrian zone.
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Acqua Vergine is one of several Roman aqueducts that deliver pure drinking water to Rome. Its name derives from its predecessor Aqua Virgo, which was constructed by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 19 BC. Its terminal castellum is located at the Baths of Agrippa, and it served the vicinity of Campus Martius through its various conduits. In an effort to restore fresh water to Rome during the Renaissance, Pope Nicholas V, in 1453, renovated the main channels of the Aqua Virgo and added numerous secondary conduits under Campo Marzio. The original terminus, called a mostra, which means showpiece, was the stately, dignified wall fountain designed by Leon Battista Alberti in Piazza dei Crociferi. Due to several additions and modifications to the end-most points of the conduits during the years that followed, during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the Acqua Vergine culminated in several magnificent mostre - the Trevi Fountain and the fountains of Piazza del Popolo.
Giuseppe Valadier was an Italian architect and designer, urban planner and archeologist, a chief exponent of Neoclassicism in Italy.
Via Margutta is a narrow street in the centre of Rome, near Piazza del Popolo, accessible from Via del Babuino in the ancient Campo Marzio neighborhood also known as "the foreigner's quarter". Mount Pincio is nearby. Via Margutta originally was home to modest craftsmen, workshops and stables, but now hosts many art galleries and fashionable restaurants.
The Pincian Hill is a hill in the northeast quadrant of the historical center of Rome. The hill lies to the north of the Quirinal, overlooking the Campus Martius. It was outside the original boundaries of the ancient city of Rome, and was not one of the Seven hills of Rome, but it lies within the wall built by Roman Emperor Aurelian between 270 and 273.
Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria di Montesanto are two churches in Rome.
Porta del Popolo is a gate of the Aurelian Walls in Rome (Italy). The current Porta del Popolo was built by Pope Sixtus IV for the Jubilee Year 1475 on the site of an ancient Roman gate which, at that time, was partially buried.
The Via del Corso is a main street in the historical centre of Rome. It is straight in an area otherwise characterized by narrow meandering alleys and small piazzas. Considered a wide street in ancient times, the Corso is approximately 10 metres wide, and it only has room for two lanes of traffic and two narrow sidewalks. The northern portion of the street is a pedestrian area. The length of the street is roughly 1.5 kilometres.
The Acqua Felice is one of the aqueducts of Rome, completed in 1586 by Pope Sixtus V, whose birth name, which he never fully abandoned, was Felice Peretti. The first new aqueduct of early modern Rome, its source is at the springs at Pantano Borghese, off Via Casilina. Its length is fifteen miles (24 km), running underground for eight miles (13 km) from its source, first in the channel of Aqua Alexandrina, then alternating on the arches of the Aqua Claudia and the Aqua Marcia for seven miles (11 km) to its terminus at the Fontana dell'Acqua Felice on the Quirinal Hill, standing to one side of the Strada Pia, so as to form a piazza in this still new part of Rome. The engineer was Giovanni Fontana, brother of Sixtus' engineer-architect Domenico Fontana, who recorded that the very day the new pope entered the Lateran, he decided that he would bring water once again to the hills of Rome, which had remained waterless and sparsely inhabited, largely by monasteries, since the Roman aqueducts had been destroyed in the sixth century. From the source, which Sixtus purchased, there was only a very small fall, and the work required an underground conduit as well as an aqueduct carried on arches. The work was completed within eighteen months, at the same time that Sixtus was engaged in laying out the street plan that would provide the arteries of modern Rome. By October 1586, water was running at his Villa Montalto, and by 1589 it was filling no less than twenty-seven public fountains.
The Fontana di Piazza Nicosia is a fountain in Rome, Italy, is the first of the modern fountains of Rome. It is located in the square with the same name.
Flaminio–Piazza del Popolo is an underground station on Line A of the Rome Metro, inaugurated in 1980. The station is situated on the large Piazzale Flaminio, in the Flaminio quarter outside the Aurelian Walls, next to Piazza del Popolo, and is near the Campus Martius.
Via del Babuino is a street in the historic centre of Rome (Italy), located in the rione Campo Marzio. It connects Piazza del Popolo to Piazza di Spagna and is part of the complex of streets known as Tridente.
The Piazza della Rotonda is a piazza in Rome, Italy, on the south side of which is located the Pantheon. The square gets its name from the Pantheon's informal title as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda.
The Fountain in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere is a fountain located in the square in front of the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome, Italy. It is believed to be the oldest fountain in Rome, dating back, according to some sources, to the 8th century. The present fountain is the work of Donato Bramante, with later additions by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Fontana.
The Flaminio Obelisk is one of the thirteen ancient obelisks in Rome, Italy. It is located in the Piazza del Popolo.
The Tridente is the complex of roads formed by three straight streets of Rome (Italy), departing from Piazza del Popolo and diverging southward, taking the shape of a trident.
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