Chiara Bianchi

Piazza Navona: Complete Guide Under 5 Minutes

A quick overview of Piazza Navona, detailing its architectural beauty and historical relevance.

Attraction Piazza Navona / Campo de’ Fiori
The vibrant atmosphere of Piazza Navona, famous for its fountains and architecture


Piazza Navona, one of Rome's most iconic public spaces, is a symphony of art, culture, and history. In this guide, we delve into the piazza's storied past, its stunning architecture, and the vibrant atmosphere that makes it a must-visit destination in the Eternal City. Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply looking for a picturesque spot to relax, Piazza Navona offers something for everyone.

Setting Expectations: Downsides and Time Considerations

Piazza Navona is often bustling with tourists and street artists, which adds to its lively charm but can also mean crowds, especially during peak seasons. Visitors should consider spending at least an hour here to fully appreciate its beauty and the artworks it houses.

Tips for your visit of Piazza Navona

  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning or late afternoon for fewer crowds.
  • Exploring the Art: Don't miss the masterpieces of Bernini and Borromini.
  • Enjoy the Cafes: Sit at a nearby café to enjoy the view and atmosphere.
  • Street Performers: Enjoy the diverse array of street performances.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes as you'll likely do a lot of walking and standing.

Practical Information

Opening Hours: Open 24/7.

How to Get There: Easily accessible by bus or taxi; nearest metro stop is Spagna.

Price: No admission fee; it's a public space.

Crowds: Generally crowded, especially during tourist season.

Weather Considerations: Lovely all year round, but can be very hot in summer.

Photography: Ideal for photography, especially the fountains and architecture.

Accessibility: Fully accessible to wheelchairs.

Facilities: Public restrooms and benches are available.

Tours: Guided tours available, offering insights into the piazza's history.

These details are subject to change; please check the official website for the latest information.

Must see

  • Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

    The Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is the centerpiece of Piazza Navona. It represents four major rivers from different continents, each symbolizing a part of the world known to the Romans. The intricate details and the dynamic sculptures make it a masterpiece of Baroque art.

  • Sant'Agnese in Agone

    This 17th-century church, designed by Francesco Borromini, faces Bernini's fountain. Its concave façade and the use of light inside are a testament to Borromini's architectural genius. The church is dedicated to Saint Agnes, who is said to have been martyred on this spot.

  • Fontana del Moro

    Located at the southern end of the piazza, the Fontana del Moro features a Moor wrestling with a dolphin, surrounded by four Tritons. Originally designed by Giacomo della Porta and later enhanced by Bernini, this fountain adds to the artistic grandeur of the piazza.

  • Fontana del Nettuno

    The Neptune Fountain, at the northern end of the piazza, is another creation of Giacomo della Porta. It was later embellished with statues of Neptune fighting a sea monster, adding a dynamic element that contrasts with the calm demeanor of the Fontana del Moro.

Each of these landmarks tells a story, contributing to the piazza's rich tapestry of history and art.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it safe to go to Piazza Navona?

    Piazza Navona is generally considered safe for visitors. Like any popular tourist destination, it's advisable to be aware of your surroundings and take standard safety precautions, especially against pickpockets.

  • What does Navona mean in Italian?

    The name 'Navona' is believed to have evolved from 'in agone' (in agonis), a Latin term for 'games', as the piazza was used for athletic contests in ancient times.

  • What are the three fountains in Piazza Navona?

    The three main fountains are the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) by Bernini, the Fontana del Moro (Moor Fountain) by Giacomo della Porta and Bernini, and the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune Fountain) by Giacomo della Porta.

  • How long should you spend at Piazza Navona?

    To fully appreciate Piazza Navona, a visit of at least an hour is recommended. This allows time to admire the fountains, explore the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, and perhaps enjoy a coffee at one of the surrounding cafes.

Historical Background

Piazza Navona's history dates back to the 1st century AD when it was built as a stadium for athletic contests and chariot races. Over the centuries, it transformed into a public space, reflecting Rome's evolving urban landscape. In the 17th century, it became a significant example of Baroque Roman architecture and art, thanks to the contributions of masters like Bernini and Borromini. The piazza's layout preserves the shape of the original stadium, a nod to its ancient origins.

Lesser known stories and Interesting Facts

  • Rivalry in Stone

    The rivalry between architects Bernini and Borromini is well-documented, with Piazza Navona often cited as a battleground of their artistic genius. The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi by Bernini and the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone by Borromini face each other, representing a juxtaposition of their contrasting styles.

  • The Stadium of Domitian

    The original stadium, built by Emperor Domitian, could hold 30,000 spectators, illustrating the grand scale of ancient Roman entertainment. The remains of this stadium can still be seen beneath the piazza.

  • Christmas Market Tradition

    Every December, Piazza Navona hosts a festive Christmas market, a tradition that dates back to the 19th century. It's a vibrant display of Roman holiday spirit, with stalls selling crafts, sweets, and seasonal goods.

  • Movie Fame

    Piazza Navona has been a favorite setting for filmmakers, featuring in films like 'Angels & Demons' and 'Catch-22', showcasing its cinematic charm and timeless beauty.

  • Hidden Hydro-Engineering

    The fountains of Piazza Navona, especially the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, are marvels of hydraulic engineering. Bernini's design cleverly concealed the plumbing, making the statues appear as if they are magically spouting water.

Nearby Restaurants

  • Cantina e Cucina: A popular restaurant offering a variety of traditional Italian dishes.
  • Tucci: Known for its excellent pizza and a cozy atmosphere.
  • Bar del Fico: A great place for a coffee or an aperitivo, frequented by locals and tourists alike.

Nearby Attractions

  • Pantheon: A remarkable ancient Roman temple, now a church, known for its stunning dome and oculus, just a short walk from Piazza Navona.
  • Campo de' Fiori: A lively square famous for its daily market and vibrant nightlife, offering a glimpse into the local Roman culture.
  • Castel Sant'Angelo: A historic fortress and museum, originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, offering panoramic views of Rome.


Piazza Navona is not just a testament to Rome's rich history and art but also a living part of the city's everyday life. Its blend of architectural marvels, dynamic street life, and artistic heritage makes it an essential experience for any visitor to Rome. Whether you're there to admire the masterpieces of Bernini and Borromini, enjoy a leisurely stroll, or simply soak in the atmosphere of a Roman piazza, Piazza Navona promises an unforgettable experience.