Italy 1400AD-Present-Modern Era Europe Monuments, landmarks

Piazza Navona, Rome – In the heart of the Eternal City, the Square of the Four Rivers

Piazza Navona Holiday Rome
In the heart of Rome hides a real architectural treasure, Piazza Navona. In the center of this square, the most famous creation of the master Gian Lorenzo Bernini rises with pride and grandeur: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or Fountain of the Four Rivers. Four imposing statues representing the four great rivers of the world known at that time, the Nile, the Ganges, the Rio de la Plata and the Danube, stand around an old obelisk, brought in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius.

Tourist Information

EntryPiazza Navona is always open to the public and entry is free.
Only for special occasions such as the Christmas market, there might be security checks at the entries to Piazza Navona.
Getting thereCar, Bus, Metro, or Train.
These are the lines and routes that have stops nearby –
Bus: 30,492, 64, 70, 81, 87, 916
Train: FL2, FL3, FL5
Metro: A, B
LocationPiazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy, Europe


Why is Piazza Navona famous and what is its history?

Piazza Navona is a famous public square in Rome. It was built on the site of an ancient stadium, Domitian’s Stadium, in 85 AD and retained its characteristic oval shape. The square is surrounded by historic buildings and is known for its three famous fountains, especially the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Piazza Navona has a rich history and was a center of social and cultural life during the Renaissance and Baroque.

The Stadium of Domitian, which had a larger arena than the Colosseum, was used for festivities and sports competitions. The fact that Piazza Navona was built on the site of the former stadium also explains the oval shape of this square. The stadium was known as the Circus Agonalis and it is believed that over time the name changed to “in agone” and then to “navone” and finally to “navona”.

In the center of the square is the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, dominated by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius.

Where is Piazza Navona?

Piazza Navona is located in the heart of Rome’s Campus Martius district, just 300 meters from the Pantheon, and is a lively square. Campo de’ Fiori, a nearby center for flower, fruit, vegetable, and souvenir sellers, is just 200 meters away.

What fountains are in Piazza Navona?

The Fountain of the Four Rivers represents four rivers, one from each continent, known then: the Danube, the Nile, the Ganges, and the Rio della Plata.

Piazza Navona Holiday Rome
Fountain of the Four Rivers

The other two fountains in the square are Fontana di Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) and Fontana del Moro (Fountain of the Moor). Neptune’s Fountain, also known as the Calderari, was built in 1576 by Giacomo della Porta. The statue of Neptune surrounded by statues of sea nymphs was added in the 19th century. Giacomo della Porta also built the Moor’s Fountain, and the central statue, a Moor holding a dolphin, was added in the 17th century. Tritons were also added later in the 19th century.

In which movies does Piazza Navona appear?

Angels & Demons“: This adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel features a number of scenes shot in Piazza Navona, including around the famous Fontane dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). The Fountain of the Four Rivers is presented as a Shrine of Science.

“Eat Pray Love”: In this adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Julia Roberts explores Rome and Piazza Navona is one of the locations she visits in the film.

“The Talented Mr. Ripley”: This psychological thriller starring Matt Damon and Jude Law includes scenes shot on location in Rome, including Piazza Navona.

“To Rome with Love”: Directed by Woody Allen, the film features several locations in Rome, including Piazza Navona, as part of the film’s cityscape.

What is Lake Piazza Navona?

Until the middle of the 19th century, every summer the drains of the three fountains were blocked and the center of the square was flooded to make the “Piazza Navona Lake”. The locals were excited about this event.

Are there restaurants, terraces, or cafes near the square?

Yes, around Piazza Navona you will find many restaurants, terraces, and cafes serving authentic Italian food. It is the perfect place to enjoy a traditional Italian meal.

It is exciting to visit this market also in the evening when artists and full of tourists animate it.

Is there a Christmas market in Piazza Navona?

Navona Square turns into a unique Christmas Market.

The Christmas market in Piazza Navona is one of the most famous in the city and is open during the winter holidays, especially in December. Here you can find numerous stalls and stalls selling Christmas decorations, gifts, handmade toys, art objects, and of course traditional seasonal Italian food and drink.

One of the most characteristic attractions of the Christmas market in Piazza Navona is the presence of stands with clay figurines and other traditional Italian ornaments, used to create scenes representing the Nativity of Jesus. These scenes are known as “presepe” or “presepio” in Italian and are an important Christmas tradition in Italy.

The Christmas market in Piazza Navona creates a magical and festive atmosphere, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy the spirit of the winter holidays in an impressive historical setting.

Another attraction of Piazza Navona in Rome is the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. Its construction was commissioned by Pope Innocent X and built on the site where, according to legend, Saint Agnes was stripped to the skin, but was miraculously saved from shame by the immediate growth of her hair.

What legends and mysteries does Piazza Navona have?

The legend of the Fountain of the Four Rivers

One of the most famous fountains in Piazza Navona is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, created by the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This fountain was built to represent the four great rivers of the known world at that time: the Nile, the Ganges, the Rio de la Plata, and the Danube. Some legends say that the figure representing the Nile River has its hands raised to protect itself from a possible collapse of the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, located nearby.

What secrets does Piazza Navona hide?

Rome’s Piazza Navona is a popular tourist destination, but despite its hustle and bustle and fame, there are some lesser-known spots and hidden corners that you can explore when visiting the square. Here are some of them:

  • Church of Santa Maria della Pace: This beautiful church is located near Piazza Navona and is often missed by tourists. It has an impressive interior and a beautiful inner courtyard, perfect for a quiet shortstop.
  • Palazzo Altemps: This historic palace houses part of the National Roman Museum and is located near the square. Here you will find an impressive collection of ancient sculptures.
  • Turtle Fountain (The Fountain Tartarughe): This small turtle fountain is in a corner of the square and is easy to miss. It is a simple and charming work of art.
  • Passages and courtyards: Around the square, there are several passages and small courtyards that lead to historical buildings or restaurant terraces. They can provide a quieter atmosphere and are excellent for observing the local architecture.
  • Street Artists and Art Vendors: During the evenings, Piazza Navona is filled with street artists and art vendors displaying their work. This can be a great way to experience the local atmosphere and find unique works of art.
  • Art galleries and souvenir shops: Along the streets leading to Piazza Navona, you will find various art galleries and souvenir shops. They can offer interesting options for shopping and exploring.
  • Historic buildings and architecture: Piazza Navona is surrounded by historic buildings and impressive architecture.

While visiting Piazza Navona, take time to wander the adjacent streets and explore these less crowded places, where you can experience a bit of the authenticity of Rome and the historic atmosphere of the neighborhood.

Rome, Holiday and Trips

Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone

The name of the church comes from Saint Agnes, a young Christian martyr, and from the Latin word “agone,” which refers to a public place or a place of competition, thus recalling the ancient Roman stadium (Stadium lui Domitian).

  • History: The construction of the church began in the 17th century and was carried out on the traditional site of the martyrdom of Saint Agnes. The church was built to commemorate the death and martyrdom of this young Christian saint. Its construction was ordered by Pope Innocent X and the project was made by the architects Carlo Rainaldi and Francesco Borromini.
  • Architecture: The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone is an impressive example of Baroque architecture. Its facade is one of the most iconic in Rome, with numerous sculptures and decorations. Inside, you can admire the frescoes and works of art signed by famous artists of the era, such as Giovanni Lanfranco and Francesco Allegrini.
  • Central cupola: The church is known for its central cupola, which offers a spectacular view of Piazza Navona.
  • Relics of Saint Agnes: The church houses a chapel dedicated to Saint Agnes, which is said to hold relics of the saint, including her skull.

What is the legend associated with the Sant’Agnese Church?

The legend of Saint Agnes tells of her courageous life and death during the Christian persecutions in ancient Rome.

The legend of Saint Agnes says that Agnes was a young Christian noble from Rome who swore allegiance to Christ and refused to marry a pagan man. During the Christian persecutions, she was arrested and subjected to various tortures, but she did not give up her faith. During one such martyrdom, she was stripped and exposed in a public place (this is perhaps the connection with the term “agone,” which refers to a place of competition or public place).

Legend has it that miracles occurred during her martyrdom, including her hair miraculously growing back to cover her nakedness. Saint Agnes died young but became a symbol of Christian courage and faith in the face of persecution.

The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone was built on the traditional site of Saint Agnes’ martyrdom to commemorate her death and preserve her memory. Throughout history, the church has housed relics associated with Saint Agnes and has become an important place of pilgrimage for Christians wishing to pray and worship this saint.

About the author


I am Catalina, and my passion for travel, mysteries, legends and archaeology drives me to explore the world and uncover its hidden wonders.