The most beautiful squares in Rome

Written by on 12. November 2019 in Rome Sights with 4 Comments

The most beautiful squares in Rome. Without its piazzas, Italy would definitely not be the same. The urban outdoor living room that the Italians affectionately call “piazza” is an integral part of every town and village in Bella Italia. This is where life takes place. Thus, the piazza is a very central part of the typical Italian way of life. The Piazza unites everyday life with history, architecture, family and friends. This creates a sense of community and belonging. Therefore, today I present to you the 7 most beautiful places in Rome, where you can enjoy the Dolce Vita to the fullest.

To the piazza, get set, go: The 7 most beautiful places in Rome!

1. The most beautiful squares in Rome: Piazza San Pietro

Everyone knows this place, even without ever having been in Rome. The monumental Piazza San Pietro in front of St. Peter’s Basilica was created by the artist Lorenzo Bernini from 1656 to 1667 under Pope Alexander VII.

On the piazza in front of the basilica are two fountains. They are arranged symmetrically and to the right of the 25 meter high obelisk in its center. Can you imagine that for the erection of the obelisk, which comes to a weight of over 300 tons, 900 men, 150 horses and 47 winches were needed?

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Another highlight of St. Peter’s Square are its famous colonnades that “hug” the city of Rome and the world. They consist of several rows of columns, are 320 meters long and are surmounted by 140 statues. At the same time they form the state border between the Vatican City and Italy.

What may at first glance seem like a labyrinth of gigantic pillars, however, has a peculiarity. You only recognize it when you stop on the tile near the obelisk in the middle of St. Peter’s Square!

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From this exact position, the four rows of columns suddenly become one. Bernini achieved this brilliant optical effect by gradually increasing the diameter of the spaces between the columns. As you can see, it is worth taking a look at the square in front of and not just the famous building on the piazza.

2. The most beautiful squares in Rome: Piazza del Popolo

Also in the center of the next Piazza del Popolo is a huge obelisk from ancient Egypt. The Obelisco Flaminio in the center of the sprawling Piazza is the second oldest and with a height of 23.90 m also the second largest Egyptian obelisk in Rome. Incidentally, the Piazza del Popolo is particularly impressive from the Pincio. Pincio, that is the hill with observation deck that dominates the square (one of the largest and most beautiful in Rome).

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Three important main roads start from Piazza del Popolo. Via del Corso, Via del Babuino and Via di Ripetta. This street fan is known to the Romans as Tridente (trident). The middle of the three streets is Via del Corso – the main artery of shopping in the Roman old town. It is framed by the so-called twin churches. To the left of the Corso is Santa Maria in Montesanto and to the right is Santa Maria dei Miracoli.

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On the opposite side, in the northern part of Piazza del Popolo, is the Porta del Popolo or Porta Flaminia. An imposing gate in the ancient Aurelian city walls. The inside of the portal bears the inscription “FELICI FAUSTOQUE INGRESSUI MDCLV” (in English: For a happy and favorable entrance), which is also designed by the famous artist Bernini (the architect of St. Peter’s Square). Only a few know that the square was one of the places where the papal government executed numerous death sentences until the mid-19th century.

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3. The most beautiful squares in Rome: Piazza Campo de ‘Fiori

Like Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Campo de ‘Fiori is one of the places in Rome where public executions took place. Meanwhile, only the statue of the philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was burned there on 17 February 1600 as a heretic, is reminiscent of this cruel past. Nowadays, Piazza Campo dei Fiori is the epitome of a typical Italian marketplace: colorful flowers, fruits and vegetables and all sorts of souvenirs surrounded by beautiful fa├žade buildings. The Piazza is especially well known for the market. It takes place every morning (except Sundays) and attracts tourists and Romans alike.

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This market looks back on a long tradition: 1869, the flower market was moved from the nearby Piazza Navona on the Campo de ‘Fiori (Field of Flowers), on the previously held the horse market. The fact that the place got its name, is close, but is wrong. Because the name of the Campo, as the nickname of Campo de ‘Fiori, comes from the Middle Ages. So long before the Romans established a marketplace here; from a time when the Piazza Campo de ‘Fiori was actually still a field with many flowers.

Unlike most of the most beautiful squares in Rome, the Campo de ‘Fiori is one of the few major squares in Rome that is not linked to a church or any other important building. For me it is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Rome full of colors and life.

4. The most beautiful squares in Rome: Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is an Italian piazza like a picture book. Here you meet painters, street artists and musicians between fountains and framed by Italian cafes and elegant palazzi. Imposing is the fountain in the middle of the piazza, about which I have already reported in detail in the article on the most beautiful fountains in Rome.

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Piazza Navona is one of the most spectacular and characteristic urban complexes of Baroque Rome. Its origins are, as so often in Rome, already in antiquity. The buildings delimiting the square were built on the remains of Domitian Stadium, built by the ancient emperor in AD 86 for athletics competitions and horse races.

Later, the Piazza Navona, then was even turned into a kind of outdoor swimming pool, where nobles and plebs could refresh during the hot Roman summer. For this one has blocked the outflows of the wells and completely flooded the place with the water. In June 1652, this unusual “urban” swimming pool was inaugurated with a big party. After about 214 years, Pope Pius IX banned this playful refreshment categorically citing hygiene reasons. Since then, the square has never been flooded again, even though his appeal for entertainment has never failed. If you are in Rome during the winter, you will find in Piazza Navona the most famous Christmas market of the Eternal City.

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5. The most beautiful squares in Rome: Piazza della Rotonda

The Piazza della Rotonda is where the famous Pantheon is located.

The ancient temple, which was quickly converted into the Catholic Church (Basilica di Santa Maria ai Martiri), is one of my favorite personal buildings in the Eternal City. That’s why the piazza should not be missing on my list of the most beautiful squares in Rome.

The square was the scene of a market since the Middle Ages. At that time, however, he was still unpaved and found himself in poor hygienic conditions. The mass of waste left over from the market stalls over the years led to an increase in the soil compared to the basilica. The fountains of the Piazza della Rotonda had to be enlarged and raised slightly to compensate for the different height of the ground. If you look at the fountain you will notice that the pedestal it stands on has five steps on the Pantheon facing side and only two steps on the opposite side.

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For hours I could sit on the steps in front of the fountain of the piazza and watch the hustle and bustle at the feet of the Pantheon. You should not miss a look in “Antica Salumeria”, a small delicatessen on the square (left of the Pantheon). A small quaint shop where you can hang the ham from the ceiling and buy your fresh Panini or treat yourself to a real Italian aperitif.

6. The most beautiful squares in Rome: Piazza del Campidoglio

Bet that you have already come into contact with the Piazza del Campidoglio, without even knowing about it? Maybe even without being in Rome at all? The Piazza del Campidoglio adorns the Italian 50 cent coin. The Piazza del Campidoglio is usually called also Capitol Square, because it is located on the Capitol Hill, one of the famous seven hills of Rome. Although the Capitol is the smallest of the seven hills, it has always had a special political significance for the city. On its summit, you’ll find the Temple of Juno Moneta and the Jupiter Temple.

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Its current appearance was designed by Michelangelo. The Piazza del Campidoglio is directed to the St. Peter’s Church, which was then not only the spiritual, but also the political center of the city, from. In the middle of the square, a large bronze equestrian statue of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was erected. Around the statue is the trapezoidal piazza with the unmistakable star pattern set in white marble in the piazza. The statue that we can see on the square today is a replica of it, the original statue is in the Capitoline Museums.

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Piazza del Campidoglio is one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Not only because of its location, but also because here are the Capitoline Museums. In addition, the piazza also houses the well-known statue of the she-wolf, which, according to legend, nursed Romulus and Remus. The she-wolf on the column is just a copy of the original, which is also kept in the Capitoline Museums.

7. The most beautiful squares in Rome: Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere

Trastevere, the characteristic district on the other side of the Tiber with its charming streets, shops, restaurants and bars may meanwhile not be missing in any visit to Rome. If there is a place that can be considered the heart of the Trastevere district, it is without a doubt Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.

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Inserted in a medieval city structure of small winding streets with cobblestones, the piazza opens like a clearing. Particularly impressive is the eponymous Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. This is the oldest church of St. Mary in Rome, with a magnificent mosaic on the facade and the church tower from the 12th century. The place owes its present form, as so often in Rome, to the Baroque. But the area around the piazza was built in Roman times.

This square, like the Forum in ancient Rome, has always been the meeting place and has retained this function until today. Especially in the evening, the fountain in the middle of the piazza is a popular meeting place. A symbol of the Italian way of life. For that reason alone it is one of the most beautiful places in Rome for me.

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