Piazza del Popolo is one of the most famous squares in Rome, laying at the foot of the Pincio Hill. The square and its gate are emblematic examples of architectural "stratification”, a common thing in the Eternal City, due to the several changes ordered by the Popes over the centuries and applied to the buildings. Three churches are located in the square.
Gathering spot for the shopping in Rome, three main streets start from this square: Via del Corso, Via di Ripetta, Via del Babuino. You can reach Piazza del Popolo taking the Metro A and getting off at Flaminio. Have a relaxing stroll around the marvellous gardens of the Pincio Hill, or do some shopping in the many elegant boutiques located in Via del Corso and Via dei Condotti, or admire the stunning artworks kept in the Art Gallery in Via Margutta. There's something to suit everybody's fancy! And don’t forget to try the many smart restaurants, wine bars, tearooms, and coffe shops around Piazza del Popolo in Rome.
The square was previously known as Piazza Flaminia. It was named Piazza del Popolo because of the several poplars (populus in Latin) covering the area from the Mausoleum of Augustus to the square.
The young Romans trained in the military arts, while the less young people held meetings for the elections of magistrates and senators.
Since Pope Sixtus V, three streets branch out from the Piazza, forming the so-called Trident. However, it was only when Francesco Fontana placed the Egyptian obelisk in the centre of the square in 1589 that Piazza del Popolo became a real urban center.
Fontana established that the virtual extension of the three roads converged - and it still does - in the obelisk, generating a single layout. This kind of design is called "piede d’oca” in Italy, “patte d’oie” in France and “goose foot” in England. It was used in France to design the “Place d”Armes” in Versailles.
The twin churches
The works on Santa Maria di Monte Santo and Santa Maria dei Miracoli started in 1662 and 1674, respectively. Both churches were designed by Carlo Rainaldi and finished by Bernini in cooperation with Carlo Fontana.
The Church of Santa Maria di Monte Santo was built on the left hand side of the square, and Santa Maria dei Miracoli on the right hand side, standing southwards to the square gate.
The churches stand symmetrically on the two sites resulting from the three Tridente roads. Despite the two sites being of different sizes, the two churches look symmetric, like a monumental entrance gate to the Holy City through Via Flaminia.