One of the most iconic square of Rome, Piazza Navona is a beauty in the daytime and a romantic spot at night!
Fig. 1. View of Piazza Navona at Night
Many pass through Piazza Navona without realizing that the square’s unusual shape derives from its original function, in Roman times the square served as the racing track for a stadium built by Emperor Domitian in AD 85. The stadium could house as many as 30.000 spectators, that the same size of a modern football stadium! Fragments of the stadium as still visible in the Underground.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the square was stadium was largely dismantled with its structures reutilized for building purposes. In the Medieval period, the square was owned by Benedictine monks, until the thirteenth century, when it came under the jurisdiction of the magister of Rome who employed it for horse training and carnival parades. Houses slowly emerged along its perimeters, but the square continued to serve ludic functions until the nineteenth century, when it was used for water games and horse racing, the “corse al fantino” as the romans use to call them, were regularly held at this spot.
Fig. 2. Piazza Navona in a 19th-Century postcard
The two Geniuses of the Baroque, Bernini and Borromini, here still face each other in an eternal struggle – Borromini’s elegant church of Sant'Agnese and Bernini’s famous fountain of the Quattro Fiumi.
Today the square hosts many artists and is often used as a venue for playground fairs in the Holiday Seasons.
Jacopo (Walks Insider Rome Author)