Piazza Navona dates back to ancient Rome and the Emperor Domitian who built it as his stadium. Could accommodate up to 300,000 spectators with its 275 meters long and was used mostly for athletics games.
Its name, Navona, has two possible origins: one from the Greek "agones" (games) and the other for the custom of flooding the Square during the month of August. It is said that was to celebrate the ancient naval battles, or simply to escape the summer heat.
Nowadays the square retains its characteristic oval shape and is the center par excellence where Baroque art express itself in Rome. Here you can see the beautiful Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini (representing the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile and the Rio de la Plata, the four corners of the earth) and the Church of Santa Agnese in Agone of Borromini.
To celebrate the greatness of the House of Pamphili, Pope Innocent X called the greatest architects of the time, by organizing a huge renovation of the area. The competition between the artists was fought with great spirit of competition.
There is a famous legend about the rivalry between Bernini and Borromini. It says malignant Bernini wanted to protect two of the four statues of the rivers against the work of the adversary: the Nile has a bandage on his head to escape the unhappy vision and the Rio de la Plata an outstretched hand to ward off the impending collapse of the church.
The church was actually built after the fountain, but it is true on the facade of the church, the statue of St. Agnes has a posture that opens up many possible interpretations, including the one that the famous hand on his chest, along with the expression of the face, is a sign of confusion!
Nowadays Piazza Navona is a stylish and vibrant landmark of Roman life, always full of artists, outdoor cafes and many tourists.
It is well known for the Christmas market every year in December, which create a special atmosphere.
Credits Pics Flickr Gallery: Geomangio - rafael miro - dalbera - sneakerdog