Christian Rizzo

Piazza Venezia: Everything You Need to Know

A comprehensive guide to Piazza Venezia, delving into its history, significance, and visitor information.

Piazza Venezia in Rome


Did you know that Piazza Venezia was once the site of a thrilling horse race that attracted thousands of spectators? This is just one of the many fascinating stories that surround this central square in Rome, where history, art and politics converge. Piazza Venezia is not only a crossroads of busy streets, but also a witness of the transformations and events that have shaped the Eternal City over the centuries.

In this article, we will explore the origins, historical significance, lesser-known stories, intriguing facts and dark histories of Piazza Venezia, one of the most emblematic and controversial places in Rome. We will also discover the monuments and buildings that adorn the square, from the ancient Palazzo Venezia to the modern Vittoriano, and learn about their role and symbolism in the Italian culture and identity.

Historical Context

Piazza Venezia owes its name to the monumental palace that was built in 1455 by Pietro Barbo, a cardinal from Venice who later became Pope Paul II. The palace, which served as his residence and as the embassy of the Republic of Venice in Rome, was originally called Palazzo di San Marco, after the patron saint of Venice. The square in front of it was also named after him: Piazza di San Marco.

The square changed its name several times over the years, depending on the objects or events that characterized it. For example, it was called Piazza della Conca di San Marco (Saint Mark's Basin Square) when Pope Paul II placed a large granite basin in the middle of it, which he had found at the Caracalla Baths. The basin was later moved to Piazza Farnese by Pope Paul III in 1545.

Piazza Venezia was also the place where the finishing line of the famous Corsa dei Barberi (Race of the Barberi) stood. This was a traditional event of the Roman Carnival, in which riderless horses raced from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia along Via del Corso (which means Race Street). The horses were stopped by clerks using long bed sheets at a spot called Ripresa dei Barberi (Recovery of the Racehorses). This tradition lasted until the end of the 19th century, when it was banned due to several accidents involving the spectators.

After the Napoleonic age, Piazza Venezia became a property of the Habsburgs from 1814 to 1916, housing Austro-Hungarian diplomats. It went back to the Italian State only after World War I. The current appearance of the square is the result of the remodeling operations made between 1885 and 1911 in order to build the monument known as Vittoriano or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II, the first king of unified Italy. For this purpose, an entire neighborhood by Campidoglio Hill had to be destroyed, along with a number of buildings, such as part of the Aracoeli Convent, Paul III's Tower, and Palazzo Torlonia.

Piazza Venezia was also the location of public speeches given by Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator who ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943. He used to address his supporters from a balcony on Palazzo Venezia, overlooking the square and its monuments. His speeches were often broadcasted by radio and newsreels, making Piazza Venezia a symbol of his regime and propaganda.

Today, Piazza Venezia is a central hub of Rome, where several thoroughfares intersect, such as Via dei Fori Imperiali and Via del Corso. It is also a popular tourist attraction, as it is close to many historical and cultural sites, such as Trajan's Column, Capitoline Hill, Roman Forum and Pantheon. Moreover, it is home to some important institutions and museums, such as Italy's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Vittoriano, which hosts an eternal flame and is guarded by soldiers; Palazzo Venezia, which houses the National Institute of Archaeology and History of Art and the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia; and Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali di Venezia, which is the headquarters of a major insurance company.

Architectural Features

Piazza Venezia is a central square in Rome that showcases a variety of architectural styles and features. Some of the most notable elements are:

Tips and Recommendations

If you want to visit Piazza Venezia and enjoy its architectural features, here are some tips and recommendations:


Piazza Venezia is a fascinating square that reflects different aspects of Rome's history and culture. From ancient Roman monuments to Renaissance palaces, from nationalist symbols to religious icons, it offers a glimpse into the rich and complex heritage of the Eternal City. Whether you are interested in architecture, art, or politics, you will find something to admire and appreciate in this square.