The history of Piazza Navona dates back to Ancient Roman times.
On the site of what is now the square stood Domitian’s Stadium
where public shows, games and even re-enactments of naval battles
were once carried out.
Even after it had fallen into ruin and virtually disappeared,
the Stadium remained a place where people met to celebrate. This
custom continued until the nineteenth century when comedy actors,
acrobats and clowns put on shows to entertain people on festive
The current form of Piazza Navona dates back to the 17th and
18th centuries when it already featured the fountains, Palazzo
Pamphilj (now the Brazilian Embassy) and the Church of Sant’Agnese.
The Square has hardly changed since, one of the reasons it remains
The obelisk at the centre of the square is about 16 metres high
and stands on a base comprising the Fontana dei Fiumi, featuring
four statues that represent the four main rivers: the Nile, the
Danube, the Ganges and the Rio de la Plata.
The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, designed by Borromini,
honours the saint of the same name who, according to the legend,
died in Domitian’s Stadium at the very point where the church
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