Largo Argentina - Templi della Repubblica · 2. Pantheon
Piazza Colonna · 5.
Via del Corso (Via Lata) · 6.
Via dei Condotti - Caffè Greco
7. Spanish Steps
Via del Babuino · 9.
10. Piazza del Popolo
Mausoleo di Augusto · 12.
Ara Pacis · 13. Piazza Navona
The Campo Marzio district was instituted on May 18, 1743, with a hand written document by Pope Benedict XIV. However, the history of this vast area, bordered by the banks of the Tiber to the west, Pincio hill to the north, the Qurinale to the east and the Campidoglio to the south, goes all the way back to the time of the Roman Republic.
During that era it became the property of the people of Rome and construction began on various temples and public buildings.
The name 'Campus Martis' refers to the area of the city where a temple to the war god originally stood, and military training was carried out. Temples and buildings began to appear in around the 5th century B.C., but true urbanization of the area didn't start until the 2nd century B.C. At that time, grand palaces, such as the Sallustio, on the slope of Pincio hill, and the Quirinale; began to appear. During the imperial age, both Domitian and Hadrian contributed to the changing the landscape, but most of all, Octavian Augustus, with his imposing mausoleum built near the bend in the Tiber river. Considered to be the heart of the city, it was the scene of all manifestations attended by a large crowds. These included: Rites and ceremonies, both public and sacred (ludi saeculares); mock naval battles, games and competitions, chariot and trighe (carts led by three horses, in their own arena called a 'Trigarium') races; also assemblies and public functions, such as the population census every five years and the annual 'Comizi Centuriati', which elected the magistrates.
It was the most populated area of the city during the Barbarian invasions. Renaissance nobility chose Campo Marzio as the site of their opulent Villas. Examples of these still standing today are: Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne, Palazzo Borghese and Farnese Palace.
Even today, modern Romans consider this district to be the city's heart. Probably because it still retains the charm and flavour of the Medieval and Renaissance ages. Many of the streets follow their original geographical orientation; for example: Via del Corso (known as Via Lata, which was the start of the Via Flaminia), Via di Ripetta, Via del Babuino and Via Margutta. This is mostly due to the uninterrupted habitation of the area since ancient times.
Even though most of the ancient structures are no longer standing, the original urban plan is still visible, and major thoroughfares and axes (such as the above mentioned Via Lata); and certain architectural fragments (Piazza Navona and Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne) are still visible.
Given its vast area, we have divided the search for the Martian Fields into 3 sub-itineraries. The tourist is free to mix certain elements of one itinerary with another, according to interest and time constraints. We will refer to these sub-itineraries as 'walks'.
WALK #1: From Piazza Argentina - Piazza di Spagna
How to get to Piazza Argentina: buses 40, 46, 62, 63, 64, 70, 87, 119, 492, 780
Republican temples, Pantheon, Montecitorio, Piazza Colonna, Via del corso, Via dei Condotti, Piazza Spagna
This walk, which begins in Piazza Argentina and ends in Piazza Spagna, is truly an 'excursus' in Roman history, giving architectural glimpses, which span the foundation of the Republic, through the Imperial age, Renaissance, Baroque era, and up to today. Last but not least, like a cherry on top of the cake, a stop at the historic Caffé Greco, the most famous in all of Rome. The outlined walk takes half a day, however a longer stop in Piazza Spagna is recommended; perhaps a stroll on the Spanish Steps, to observe the local artists, or even dinner at one of the colourful Viennese breweries along Via delle Croce.
Sacred area of largo Argentina - Republican monuments
This area, where Caesar was killed, is considered to be one of the most important archaeological in the city. It consists of an enormous paved piazza with four temples in the centre, some of the only remaining examples of Republican architecture.
Unfortunately, sloppy archaeological excavations have rendered true understanding of the site, very difficult.
Originally built between the 4th and 2nd centuries B.C., the area has undergone various reconstructions and transformations over time.
Having yet to be properly identified, they are referred to as temples A-D.
Temple 'A', located in the northernmost area, near Corso Vittorio, was utilised by a Cristian cult in the 9th century. Traces of frescoes and a small altar still remain. Experts attribute the circular shaped temple 'B', to Quinto Lutazio Catulo, who consecrated it to the god 'Fortuna huiusce diei', in memory of the battle of Vercelli.
The excavations revealed the original confines of the four temples, demolishing successive construction work; including a series of brick buildings, up to two stories high, from the time of Claudius and Caligula, believed to have house the offices of water and aqueducts.
The excavations also damaged a large part of the medieval layer of the site, of which documentation still exists ('seppur scarna') According to it, a military camp (castrum and axes) was built with a retaining wall from recuperated materials, and inhabited in the 8th and 9th centuries. Remains of this encampment were al but destroyed during excavations, along with the remains of the church of St Nicola dei Cesarini, which rose above the remains of temple 'A'.
Piazza della Rotonda
No entrance fee
Hours: weekdays 9:00 A.M.-sunset, weekends: 9:00 A.M.-1:00 P.M.
Tel.: 06 68300230
This temple, was built according to the wishes of Marco Agrippa, Caesar Augustus's son-in-law, in 27 B.C. During the course of its long history, it has undergone extensive damage and restoration, to the point of a total face-lift at the hands of Hadrian, which is basically what remains today. It is divided into two distinct architectural sections: a Greek-style 'pronao' (entrance vestibule), and a cylindrical body, having height and diameter of equal dimensions (43.30 M). It is built entirely of brick, with niches carved into its thick walls.
The triangular shaped 'pronao' is held up by 16, monolithic, pink granite columns. Once inside the enormous antique bronze doors, due to its stark simplicity, an air of silence and contemplation overcomes the visitor. Above the beams rises the cupola, with its inset squares, to the 9-meter in diameter, central 'foro', or opening. Through this opening is the only way external light may enter. In antiquity all the walls were covered in marble and every niche held a statue. Now the walls are bare. Located in the first niche is the 15th century 'Annunciazione', attributed to Melozzo da Forli. Also present are the tombs of Kings Vittorio Emmanuele II, Umberto I, and Queen Marguerita. Under the shrine on the left, which contains a statue of the Madonna of Lorenzetto, is the tomb of Raphael (1520).
This Palace, located in the piazza of the same name, has been the seat of the 'Camera dei Diputati'since 1870. The façade was initiated by Bernini in 1650 then finished by C. Fontana in 1694.The focal point in the piazza is the Egyptian obelisque of Pharaoh Psammetico II brought to Rome from Heliopolis, under Augustus for the Campo Marzio. It was transferred to Montecitorio by Pope Pius VI in 1792.
This square shaped piazza is bordered on the east by the Galleria Colonna, on the north by a wall of Palazzo Chigi, on the west by Palazzo Wedekind and its portico, supported by 16 ionic columns, From the Augustinian temple of Veio. In the centre of the piazza stands the Marcus Aurelius Column, from which its name originates.
MARCUS AURELIUS COLUMN
Built to celebrate the victorious enterprises of the Emperor against the Germans and Sarmations.
It consists of 28 marble blocks, which rise to a height of 30 meters. The spiral relief covering its entire surface, illustrates, episodes from both wars, the lower half dedicated to the Germans and the upper, to the Sarmations. In 1589, Pope SixtusV renovated the base, and placed a statue of St Paul at the top.
VIA DEL CORSO
Originally known as the 'Via Lata', it was later named 'Via del Corso', for the horse races conducted there, from the 15th-19th centuries. This rectilinear avenue, flanked along its length by imposingly elegant churches and palaces, connects the Piazza del Popolo with Piazza Venezia. Our walk takes us through Piazza Colonna to the Roman crossroads at Largo Goldoni. From there we turn right onto Via dei Condotti.
VIA DEI CONDOTTI
The name 'Condotti' refers to the system of canals or conduits, that brought fresh water to the centre of the city. It is now known for its elegant shops. While walking down it, in the distance can be seen, the beautiful Spanish Steps or 'Trinità dei Monti'. Just before arriving in Piazza Spagna, on the left hand side is a Roman landmark, the Caffé Greco.
Via condotti, 86
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9:00 A.M.- 7:30 P.M.
Sunday and Monday 10:30 A.M.- 7:00 P.M.
It never closes
Caffé Greco first opened its doors in 1760. The original owner, Nicola della Maddalena, was of Greek origin. It soon became 'the'meeting place, for cultured and literate Europeans and foreigners. Enjoying its heyday in the 19th century; it was then that they started serving coffee in their distinctive cups with orange circles; immortalized by Guttuso, in a painting, showing him surrounded by the intellectuals of the time.
The labyrinthine interior, made-up of inter-connecting rooms, is chock-full of memorabilia, pictures, photos, autographs and letters. Of special note: in the so-called 'prima sala' is a collection of paintings by Vincenzo Giovannini, from 1870-1880, depicting ancient Rome, the 'omnibus' room, with its tables situated in a way, as to resemble those on the Orient Express; and the 'Sala Rossa', or red room, covered in damasque and adorned with a sculpture of a fawn. In a corner of the room stands a bookshelf, containing books and documents pertaining to the history of the caffé. This is also the meeting room for various groups and associations who use the caffé as their headquarters: as well as, where important people are entertained.
PIAZZA SPAGNA - TRINITÁ DEI MONTI
Situated at the foot of Pincio hill, the piazza is named for the Spanish Embassy, located next to the Holy See. The focal point of the Piazza is the 'barcaccia' fountain by Pietro Bernini, Gianlorenzo's father; built to commemorate a dramatic flood, caused by the overflowing of the Tiber River.
At the far end is the 'Palazzo di Propaganda Fide', Which is the head office for Catholic Missions around the world. The side of the façade facing the piazza is by Bernini, and the more ornate one that runs along the street of the same name is the work of Borromini. Next to the palazzo is the 17th century column dedicated to the 'Immaculate Conception'.
Don't miss a rather curious 18th century building at the corner of Via Sistina and Via Gregoriana, called the Palazetto Zuccari. Built by Federico Zuccari, it is also known as the 'Casa dei Mostri' or house of monsters ( in the original Latin sense, meaning suprising). Take a close look at the windows and the main entrance. They are all outlined with grotesque figures.
Without a doubt the most captivating view in all of the piazza, especially to first time visitors, is that of the spectacular stairway, built by F. De Sanctis and a. Specchi (1721-1725), which remains the tallest urban structure built in 18th century Rome. The stairway unfolds in a series of rectilinear, curvilinear, concave and convex ramps and terraces, which lead up to the upper piazza and the church of 'Trinità dei Monti'. This church, with its ornate façade and twin bell towers, was built as a place of worship, for the faithful of Rome, by the French government. Inside are two 16th century frescoes by Daniele da Volterra (Assumption and Deposition).
The piazza in front of the church offers an unforgettable view; of the steps, the piazza, all the way down Via Condotti, to the domes of San Carlo al Corso and St Peter's.
WALK #2: FROM PIAZZA SPAGNA - PIAZZA NAVONA
Spanish Steps, Via del Babuino, Via Margotta, Piazza del Popolo, Augustus' mausoleum, Ara Pacis, Palazzo Borghese, Palazzo Altemps, Piazza Navona
Leaving Spanish Steps, we continue on our discovery of the Campo Marzio district. In this portion, the visitor is given a sense of Rome's 'continuity'. For it is here, that noble families of every age have left architectural traces of their presence. This walk begins in Spanish Steps and ends in Piazza Navona.
How to get to Spanish Steps: bus 590 and Metro line B (Spagna).
VIA DEL BABUINO AND VIA MARGUTTA
Via del Babuino is one of Rome's main shopping arteries, specializing in antique stores. Along the street sits the fountain, with a huge head of a sileno', or baboon, which gives it its name. Stop for a coffee at number 50, with its sculptures by Canova Tadolini (open 8:00 A.M-8:00 P.M., closed Sundays).
Turn right, at the first crossroads, on to Via Margutta, closed to thru traffic, with its artisan's workshops and galleries of historical art. On this street sits the local 'Campo Marzio' fountain: 'Fontana degli Artisti', depicting easels, paint brushes and paints.
PIAZZA DEL POPOLO (PEOPLE'S PLAZA)
This plaza is magically situated at the foot of the Pincio, as part of the city's Baroque urbanistic renovation, in an effort to modernize routes frequently travelled by the upper classes.
It's present layout, along with the ramps leading up to the Pincio, were designed by G. Valadier at the beginning of the 19th century. Elliptical in shape, on the lesser axis are two ornate 'essedre' (semicircles), decorated with richly sculptured fountains; and at the far end, four statues depicting the seasons. At the centre of the north end is the 'Porta del Popolo' (people's gate) and its three openings, with interior designs by Bernini. The exterior was built by Nanni di Baccio Bigi, from a presumed design of Michelangelo. On the south end of the plaza, near the famous 'tridente' exit, rather, the convergence of Via del Babuino, Via del Corso, and Via di Ripetta (set back a bit from the other two), rise the two twin churches of Santa Maria de Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli; both splendid examples of Baroque architecture. The Egyptian obelisque, true focal point of the piazza, from which all points may be observed; at one time decorated the Circus Maximus, and was brought to the piazza by Pope Sixtus V. Local colour abounds, and one of the more characteristic locales is surely the Bar Gelateria Rosati, made famous by Fellini's film 'La Dolce Vita'. It's open every day from 7:30 A.M-11:00 P.M.
Leaving Piazza del Popolo, take Via di Ripetta, which passes along the Tiber, to Octavian Augustus' Mausoleum.
Her lies the grave of Octavian Augustus and the principal members of the 'Julius-Claudius' family.
It dominates a vast piazza on the banks of the Tiber. Transformed into a medieval fortress, it was carefully restored to its ancient splendour in 1936. Built in the 1st century A.D., its three concentric sections rise, to a conical trunk form, atop which still stands a bronze statue of the emperor, flanked by two cypress trees. Inside, are a series of circular tunnels, leading to the room that holds the emperor's ashes.
ARA PACIS AUGUSTEAE
Lungotevere in Augusta (Villa Borghese-Barberini zone)
Hours: weekdays 9:00 A.M.- 5:00 P.M.; weekends: 9:00 A.M.-1:30 P.M.
Tel: 06 68806848
This monument was originally built from 13-9 B.C., close to what is now the Via del Corso, to celebrate peace in the world after the Roman conquest of Spain and Gall. The altar, housed in a modern pavilion in the Piazza Augusto, next to the mausoleum, was rebuilt in 1938, to celebrate the bi-millennium of Augustus. The faithful reconstruction was carried out by G. Moretti, who made plaster casts of the missing original peieces, that are found in museums all over the world. The centre 'ara' is surrounded by a square fence and white marble stairs, decorated with friezes and reliefs, depicting an imperial procession, which features Augustus and his family.
Just steps away from the Mausoleum, in Piazza Borghese, rises the Palazzo Borghese. This late Renaissance building is affectionately know to the locals as the 'cembalo' or harpsichord, referring to its 'tastiera' or keyboard-like façade. Designed by Vignola, work was begun in 1560. Completion was stalled for 50 years, until Cardinal Borghese (the future Pope Paul V) commissioned Flaminio Ponzio, for its completion (1614). This palazzo, with its ornate interior court, loggia, portico and Rococo fountains, housed the Cardinal's impressive art collection until 1891. The collection is now on display in the Galleria Borghese.
MUSEO NAZIONALE ROMANO (ROMAN NATIONAL MUSEUM) - PALAZZO ALTEMPS (ALTEMPS PALACE)
Piazza S. Apollinare,44
Hours: 9:00 A.M.-7:30 P.M. closed : Mondays, Christmas day, New Year's day
Tel.: 06 6833759
Entrance fee charged
Internet site: http://www.archeorm.arti.beniculturali.it
How to get there: buses 30, 70, 81, 87, 87D, 116, 186, 204, 294, 628
The Palace's present structure is a result of the gradual incorporation of various medieval buildings between the 15th and 17th centuries, and has been recently restored by the Ministero dei Beni Culturale (cultural works ministry).
The museum houses works, originally from private collections, which now belong to the state. Of particular interest is the Boncompani Ludovisi collection of marble statues that at one time decorated the gardens and grounds of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi's villa on the Quirinale. When the villa was torn-down at the end of the 19th century, the state acquired about 100 of the original 450 sculptures. Outstanding among them are: Galata suicida (Galatians' suicide), Oreste ed Elettra (Orestes and Electra), and the famous Greek original from the 5th century: Trono Ludovisi (Ludovisi's throne). Four of the 15 sculptures on display at the museum, originally belonging to Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps, can be found under the arches of the northern portico. Not to be missed are the Egyptian remains, found at the sanctuary if Isis and Serapes on the Campo Marzio, as well as the exhibit from the santuario Siriano (Syrian sanctuary) on the Gianicolo.
This spectacular plaza, the crowning glory of Baroque Rome, is accessible only on foot. Its rectangular form, with rounded corners, echoes its original function; that of the 'stadio Domiziano' Domitian's stadium), upon which the plaza was built.
Three fountains dominate the plaza: at the centre lies the Fontana dei Quattro fiumi-the Four Rivers Fountain (Nile, Danube, Ganges, Rio de la Plata, symbolizing Africa, Asia, Europe and America), masterwork of Bernini.
At the southern end, again by Bernini, La Fontana del Moro (the Moor's Fountain).
On the northern end the Fontana del Nettuno (fountain of Neptune), built in the 19th Century.
Outstanding among the buildings surrounding the plaza, is the Chiesa di S. Agnese in Agone (Saint Agnes in competition church), on the western side, with its concave façade and twin bell towers by Borromini. This plaza hosted centuries of races, tournaments, and festivals; which have survived to this day in the form of the 'Festa della Befana' (the Epiphany witch) , accompanied by the sound of deafening trumpets.
WALK#3: FROM PIAZZA NAVONA - PIAZZA CAMPO DEI FIORI
Piazza Navona, Braschi Palace, Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne, Palazzo arnese, Piazza Campo dei fiori
The final destination of this relaxing walk is the Campo dei Fiori, which buzzes with activity, day and night. Choose a morning or afternoon for this three hour walk. Top-off your 'pilgrimage' with a stop at one of the numerous, local bars in and around the Piazza Campo dei Fiori.
BRASCHI PALACE AND MUSEUM OF ROME
Piazza di San Pantaleo, 10 (Piazza Navona)
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9:00 A.M- 7:00 P.M. closed Mondays, Christmas day, New Year's day, May 1st
Entrance fee charged
Tel.: 06 67108350
Internet site: en.museodiroma.it
How to get there: buses 75, 75D
Built in 1780 by Cosimo Morelli, for the nephews of Pope Pius VI, it was the last of the ornate Papal family homes.
Trapezoidal in shape, the entrance lies on its shorter side, which faces Piazza San Pantaleo, while the longer side faces Via Pasquino. Here to greet the visitor, is the Hellenistic era (3rd century B.C.) mutilated torso of Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus.
This is the famous 'Mastro Pasquino', made famous during the time of the Papal States, for the satirical 'pasquinate' or notes attached to it. Recently restored, and reopened to the public, this museum documents Roman history, art, culture and social life from the Medieval era to the first half of the 20th century. It also houses the 'Gabinetto Comunale delle Stampe', the communal photographic archive of scenery, archaeology and portraits. Built around 18 red granite columns, The coats of arms of the Braschi and Onesti families are carved atop the column's capitals. A notable design feature of the palazzo, is its enormous entrance stairway. The Palazzo's oval shaped, main atrium is decorated with cipolline marble columns, with white marble bases and Doric capitols.
PALAZZO MASSIMO ALLE COLLONNE
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 141
This true Renaissance jewel, masterwork of B. Peruzzi (1532-1536), was built over the ruins of the Odeon of Domitian. The convex, beehive shaped front façade, is accentuated by six Doric columns, which form a splendid portico. Delicate stuccos by Peruzzi decorate the portico and the lobby leading to the first courtyard. The palazzo complex is made up of three different buildings. The palazzo is open to the public on only one day each year; on march 16th, in commemoration of Paolo Massimo's miraculous recovery in 1583, through the intervention of Saint Filippo Neri.
Piazza Farnese can be reached from the Campo dei Fori through the vicolo della Cancelleria.
This palace, built on the piazza of the same name; adorned with two cup-shaped fountains, originally located at the Caracalla Thermal Baths, epitomises the classic style, typically expressed during the first decade of the 16th century.
Construction began in 1525 by Antonio Sangallo, the younger, for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, who became Pope Paul II in 1534. The work was completed after Sangallo's death by Michelangelo.
The palace's large scale, unitarian design, cuts an imposing profile into the urban landscape. It's unique style is a result of the distinct influences brought to light by the designers who built it; illustrated by the three rows of classic-style, tabernacle windows. The central window and balcony, along with the splendid entablature and most of the courtyard are Michelangelo's work.
The vast, luminous courtyard opens to an atrium, which leads to the the Sangallo portico, with its polished granite columns supporting the barrel-vaulted ceiling. This space, with its chiaroscuro contrasts, forms the central nucleus of the palazzo's interior. On the walls of the grand 'salone', which occupies two entire floors, hang valuable tapestries, which reproduce images from the Giotto frescoes, found in the Apartment of Pope Julius II. On either side of the splendid fireplace, at the far end of the room, stand two allegorical sculptures by Guglielmo della Porta, representing Peace and Abundance. Located on the first floor is the fresco gallery, with mythological works by Annibale Carraci and dal Domenichino.
PIAZZA CAMPO DEI FIORI
The market's colours, sounds and the people who frequent it, evokes such a sense of happy vitality, that even the sad statue in centre of the piazza, cannot erase it. It is a monument to the philosopher, Giordano Bruno; who, during a sad chapter of Italian History, was condemned to death in 1600, by the Holy Inquisition, as an heretic. Named for the market, which still so typifies it, that at the end of the day the entire piazza is covered with flowers and herbs; but also for Flora, beloved of emperor Pompeo. Here, one is invited to browse the quaint shops offering specialty items, many found only locally, or merely sit outside one of the numerous bars, either way this is spot is the perfect ending to your walk.