Sample Art Paper on Architecture of Piazza del Popolo, Rome

Architecture of Piazza del Popolo, Rome

The Piazza del Popolo is one of the major historic sites that portray the legendary Italian architecture (Moffett et al, 2003). It is also one of the last projects done during the papal reign in the 18th century. The piazza is a large public square located at the heart of Rome, which holds public events like sports, fairs and executions. Its construction was commissioned by Emperor Aurelianus but has undergone significant renovations over the years. Guiseppe Valadier was among the leading architects who oversaw the renovations, which make the site as iconic as it is today.

The square is defined by specific structures that are detailed and symbolic. It encompasses the twin churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto, which connect to most of the outlets of the Piazza. The two churches are similar in characteristics although they have a few notable differences. The latter was constructed in honor of Mount Carmel, the “Holy Mountain,” has three chapels, and it has angels by Fillipo Carcani erected on it whilst holding instruments of passion. On the other hand, the Santa Maria dei Miracoli is more detailed on the outside as compared to the other church as it tt has a circular layout, with a large bell and a cupola. Besides, it has an altar with an image of the virgin which makes it more elegant (Kirk, 2005).

Before renovation, the square had a fountain at the center, a cistern for the workers and a horse through; structures that were demolished during the era of Sixtus V. The Trullo fountain was to be replaced by an Egyptian Obelisk of Ramesses II, which is only identical to the one in San Giovanni and was brought to the city by Emperor Augustus and Circus Maximus. The obelisk was to honor the reign of Sety I of Egypt with three of its sides carved during his reign and the fourth under his heir, Ramesses II. A fountain was later added in 1818, which is in the shape of a lion at the base of the obelisk. There are a number of fountains located within the Piazza with the main duct is the Acqua Vergine Nuovo (1821) that pumps water to the other fountains and basins (Kirk, 2005).

The final most fundamental perspective that gives the Piazza meaning is the façade located at the north of the square, where the Porta del Popolo is located. The inner façade was designed by Bernini to specifically welcome Queen Christina of Sweden. An emblem was carved on the inner façade on the attic, along with the coats of arm of the papal family (Ching et al, 2007). A plaque was carved that translates in English as “for a happy and propitious entrance” and still remains to this day.



Ching, F. D. K., Jarzombek, M., & Prakash, V. (2007). A global history of architecture. Hoboken, N.J: J. Wiley & Sons.

Kirk, T. (2005). The architecture of modern Italy: The challenge of tradition, 1750-1900. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Moffett, M., Fazio, M., & Wodehouse, L. (2003). A world history of architecture. London: King.