Piazza del Popolo
A few paces away is the Piazza del Popolo, a vast oval public space edged by three harmonious churches. It’s centered on an ancient Egyptian obelisk that was brought to Rome in 10BC by Emperor Augustus.
Piazza del Popolo means ‘People’s Square’, but it was in fact named after the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo on one corner (St Mary of the Poplars). This is one of Rome’s most glorious churches. Inside you’ll find two enormous, fearsomely dramatic Caravaggio paintings, as well as a chapel decorated by Raphael and Bernini.
The piazza is the starting point for the ancient Roman road, Via Flaminia, which is marked by a grand gateway. Until the advent of flight, this was for many their first view of Rome as they approached the city from the north, and it’s suitably impressive. The current look of the square dates from the 19th century, when it was remodeled by architect Giuseppe Valadier, who also incorporated and landscaped the route up the Pincio hill, a viewpoint at the edge of the Villa Borghese gardens. You can walk up the zigzagging path from the piazza for soaring, romantic city views.
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Piazza del Popolo Roma Italy