Friday, December 22, 2017


The name may come from the word populus (poplar) and it is said that there was a grove of poplars relevant to the TOMB OF THE DOMIZI FAMILY and therefore also of Nero who was part of that family
The tomb corresponded to the area where now stands the church of S. Maria del Popolo
Another version has it that the poplar was only one and located at the center of the square instead of the obelisk
The most likely explanation of the name comes from the fact, however, that Paschal II (1099/1118) built near the walls a chapel at the expense of the Roman people (the one over which was later built the present church of S. Maria del Popolo): of the people (popolo) was the Virgin Mary, of the people became the square
It was a small area of​trapezoidal shape, spreading out towards the Trident outlined at the beginning of the sixteenth century by Leo X Medici (1513/21) who had opened the Via Leonina, now Via Ripetta, using funds from a tax for prostitutes
The Trident was completed by Clement VII Medici (1523/34), cousin of Leo X, who in 1525 opened the Via Clementina, now Via del Babuino with earthworks of the Pincio Hill
In 1572 Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) installed here the first public fountain in modern Rome for Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85)
The square was the main entrance to Rome for those coming from the north who would pass through the PORTA DEL POPOLO (Gate of the People) in the Aurelian Walls
During the Napoleonic occupation Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839) definitively transformed the square and created his urban masterpiece
“He reread the Baroque tradition according to the criteria of social enlightenment and integration between architecture and nature, a solution that has harmoniously reconnected the pre-existing monuments, equipping the city with the first public park of modern times” (TCI)
In 1811/24 Valadier had his foreman Antonio Lovatti built:
At No. 6 the barracks of the papal gendarmes which later became CASERMA GIACOMO ACQUA mirroring the planimetric arrangement of the opposite S. Maria del Popolo
The two buildings on Via del Corso erected for the Torlonia family with the two coffee bars Rosati and Canova
Martin Luther lived for several months in 1511 in the original convent and it was here that his desire to reform the church was transformed into a definite resolution and will
In 1818 Valadier removed the old fountain by Giacomo Della Porta and in 1829, under Pope Leone XII Sermattei (1823/29), replaced it with a new central fountain with “Four faux Egyptian lions in marble” throwing water in the “Four tanks” arranged around the Flaminio Obelisk
“Neptune between two Mermen” toward the river and “Goddess Rome between the Tiber and Aniene Rivers” toward the Pincio Hill 1818/21 by Giovanni Ceccarini (about 1790/1861)
At the outer corners of the two exedras “Statues of Four Seasons” by Filippo Gnaccarini (1804/75), Francesco Massimiliano Laboureur (1767/1831), Achille Stocchi (?/after 1870) and Felice Baini (active 1824/37) the authors also of the four statues in the transept of the Basilica of St. Paul
Valadier also settled the area on ​the slopes of the Pincio Hill with wide ramps completed in 1834
In 1878/79 two side towers that served to fortify the gate were demolished and the two smaller side arches were added to the main arch. A new access road to the square was designed as well as gardens, streets and stairs, behind the exedra on the river, following the construction of the Bridge Regina Margherita (1886/91)
In 1936 was inaugurated the FOUNTAIN OF THE RENOVATED VIRGIN AQUEDUCT (Aqua Virgo) in the niche under the terrace of the Pincio Hill
Today the square is a pedestrian zone, used for public events, with a capacity of about 30,000 people

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