The Piazza Navona in Rome, or Navona Square, is a spectacular public square that dates to the Baroque period, offering festivals, celebrations, live entertainment, churches, shopping and dining. It precisely reproduces the perimeter of the Stadium of Domitian from 86 CE that was used for sporting events of the day. You can still see remains of the original stadium under some area buildings and can see famed Gothic cathedrals, iconic fountains, international embassies and gigantic statues.

    Of course, as you walk the Piazza Navona, you'll also see sidewalk cafes just a block or two away, and will be able to access great shopping, museums and cultural sites all within a stone's throw. You can even see locations from Hollywood blockbuster films from comedies to science fiction dramas. It's an exciting and wondrous historic locale to visit on any couples or family holiday, ideal for adults and children alike.

    Piazza Navona in Rome - one of the highlights of 10 Best Historic Things to See in Rome and How to Visit Rome in Less Than 24 Hours (Read all about Rome here)

    History of the Piazza Navona

    The Piazza Navona began life as the Stadium of Domitian in the 1st century CE, which was used for athletics and sporting events and known as a Circus Agonalis. It's believed that the name evolved from this to "in avone," from there to "navone," and then to "navona." By the late 15th century, a city market had sprung up here, which was moved elsewhere in the city, and the area designated for public use. Under guidance from Pope Innocent X, the glorious Baroque architecture that defines the space sprung up here.

    From the Renaissance to today, the Piazza Navona has hosted many live entertainment events, ephemeral activities, theatrical events, festivals and celebrations. By the late 20th century to the 21st century, it has become a popular site for Hollywood blockbuster films like "Angels & Demons," "Catch-22," "National Lampoon's European Vacation," and others, due to astounding architecture and picturesque statuary.

    Highlights of the Piazza Navona

    The Piazza Navona is dominated by the church of Sant'Agnesse in Agone, in whose basement you can see the ruins of the original Stadium of Domitian. You can also tour the Pamphilj Palace, home of the Brazilian embassy, and the Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. The square is also adorned by three historic fountains: the Fontana del Moro which depicts an Ethiopian battling a dolphin, the Fontana de 'Calderari that depicts the god Neptune, and the Fountain of the Four Rivers, recognisable from the film "Angels & Demons."

    The Fountain of the Four Rivers is certainly a highlight of the sculptures near Piazza Navona, depicting the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile, and the Rio topped by two marble coats of arms representing the family of the Pope. Of particular interest is the annual Christmas Market when the square comes alive with vendors, lights and celebration.

    Good to know about the Piazza Navona

    Since it is a public square, the Piazza Navona is open all hours, every day, all year long. It's free to access, and because it's such a popular square, it's generally safe, so long as you exercise basic precautions. The biggest things you may need to consider are scammers and pickpockets. The square is also flat and paved with cobblestones, so it is generally wheelchair accessible. It's also pet-friendly in general as a public area, but keep your dog on a leash just to be safe.

    Piazza Navona can be accessed by bus, tram, metro, taxi or rideshare services, so it's very easy to get to. If you're looking to grab a bite to eat, you can find plenty of restaurants around the square, many within a block or two. Likewise, there are plenty of shops nearby where you can find souvenirs, gifts and necessities.

    Piazza Navona in Rome

    Location: Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

    Open: 24/7

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