Rotunda Square in Rome


Piazza Rotunda is known to all tourists visiting Rome, thanks to the Pantheon located here - one of the main attractions of the Eternal City. Piazza della Rotonda has a special attractive force, therefore, in the absence of rain, the steps around the fountain and the parapets soaked in two thousand years of history are never empty.

In their itineraries, many travelers mark the square as a stopping point. The democratic nature of its atmosphere allows you to relax, watching the multinational flows of tourists, listen to street musicians replacing each other, and enjoy the majestic view of the ancient temple, renouncing for a while from the surrounding modernity. Here you can have a bite to eat in a cafe, drink a cup of aromatic coffee and taste delicious Roman ice cream.

The history of the square

A narrow piazza arose on the site of the present-day Rotunda immediately after the construction of the Pantheon. Its size did not allow us to see the round shape of the temple, hidden behind the traditional rectangular portico. The majestic space opened up to visitors after entering the cult building, which produced an unexpected emotional effect.

The area began to be built up with small shops and shops at the beginning of the 7th century, after the consecration of the Pantheon by the Pope. Only in the first half of the 15th century, during the pontificate of Eugene IV, Piazza della Rotonda was cleared of retail outlets. At the same time, its boundaries were determined, the pavement was laid and modest fountains were installed from antique porphyry bowls, decorated with two basalt lions (today the sculptures can be seen in the composition of the fountain of Moses). In the middle of the 17th century, at the direction of Pope Alexander VII, the square was expanded.

For a long time, fish and vegetables were traded in Piazza della Rotonda, which affected the pollution of the area in front of the temple. Popes from time to time tried to prohibit the placement of any markets here and even imposed heavy fines, but time passed, and everything returned to its place. In the 19th century, several buildings were demolished and the fountain was fenced off. The fence was dismantled only in 1928.

The square is named Rotunda, which in translation sounds like "round", although in plan it has a quadrangular shape. In fact, her toponym is associated with another, less well-known name of the Pantheon - Santa Maria Rotonda.

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Attractions in the square

The main object of Piazza della Rotonda is the Pantheon, covered with numerous legends and myths. When approaching the square, it mysteriously appears in the gap between the houses, growing, as if, from the depths of centuries. The oldest building with a mysterious history attracts millions of tourists from all over the world, causing many a feeling of emotional shock.

The structure was built as a pagan Temple of all Gods in the 2nd century, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. Two centuries later, the Pantheon was looted and abandoned. It was forgotten until the beginning of the 7th century, until Pope Boniface IV established a church here, consecrated in honor of St. Mary and the martyrs.

There is a fountain in the center of the Rotunda Square. His first project was developed by Giacomo della Porta in the second half of the 16th century. Water was brought to the bowl, which entered Rome through the restored ancient aqueduct Aqua Virgo, which still supplies several famous fountains of the Eternal City, including - Trevi, Barcaccia, Four rivers.

The fountain of the work of Giacomo della Porta was a pool with a bowl installed in the center, from which a jet of water rose upwards. Masks surrounded by ferocious dolphins appeared later. On the back of the masks, dragons are depicted, which are present on the heraldry of Pope Gregory XIII. The original sculptures were replaced by copies at the end of the 19th century. Today they are kept in the Palazzo Braschi.

At the beginning of the 18th century, in order to make the fountain more pompous, Pope Clement XI ordered Filippo Barigioni to replace the cup with an Egyptian obelisk. The architect placed it on a travertine pedestal, complete with dolphins and a stylized coat of arms with the heraldic symbols of the family of Clement XI, as well as crossed keys and a papal tiara.

Due to the fact that Piazza della Rotonda slopes towards the Pantheon, the base of the fountain has two steps on the north side, and five steps on the south.

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The Egyptian obelisk, erected on the pedestal of the fountain, has a height of 6,34 meters. It was brought to Rome in the 1st century. at the direction of Domitian and installed in front of one of the pagan temples located on the Field of Mars. Over time, the obelisk was demolished and covered with earth. It was discovered only in the 14th century, put in order and erected on the Capitol. After 3,5 centuries, he took his current place.

Near Piazza della Rotonda are the basilicas of Sant'Eustachio and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with the famous Bernini's elephant, installed in the square in front of the entrance to the church. Behind the Pantheon you can see the ruins of the ancient Basilica of Neptune.

What to see in the Rotunda square

On the facade of one of the houses located on the western side of the piazza, there is Madonnella, a fresco framed with stucco decoration. The two-storey high image dates from the second half of the 18th century.

On the facade of another building, located on the opposite side of the Rotunda from the Madonnella, there are signs attached to which few people pay attention. One of them mentions the Italian Renaissance poet and playwright Ludovic Ariosto, who stayed at this hotel in 1513. By the way, at the end of 1789, the well-known mystic and adventurer, Count Cagliostro, who beat his servant in a rage, was taken from the room of this hotel to the casemates of the Castel Sant'Angelo. An innocent, it would seem, reason led to the collapse of Alessandro. He was accused of Freemasonry and fraud, sentenced first to be burned, and then to life imprisonment. He never went free again.

On the north side of the Fountain del Pantheon is a drinking fountain. Those who quench their thirst with it are unlikely to think about the age of the cast-iron column, approaching 150 years. Among others, this fountain was installed for free use on the initiative of the Roman mayor Luigi Pianchani in 1874. Today, there are no more than a dozen such rarities of the 19th century in the Eternal City.

In the area of ​​the Rotunda Square, you can find a large number of catering outlets. You can have a snack or a full meal with a view of the Pantheon at Napoletano's Pantheon, Da Claudia Ristorante, Scusate Il Ritardo, Agrippa, Gruppo Di Rienzo, etc. Most of the establishments specialize in Italian cuisine.

Delicious coffee with cornetto is served at the Tazza D'oro coffee shop. At the same time, here you can buy souvenirs and products related to the coffee theme. On all sides of the Piazza della Rotonda there are gelaterias with a huge selection of delicious soft ice cream.

How to get to Rotunda Square

The nearest bus stops are in Corso del Rinashimento:

  • "Rinascimento";
  • "Senato".

You can get to them by buses No. 30, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 492, 628, C3; N6, N7 and N25 (night); SHOP1.

Scheme of the walking route from the bus stop "Senato"

Scheme of the walking route from the bus stop "Rinascimento"

There are mobile taxi services in Rome - Taxi Tevere Roma, It Taxi, iNTaxi, etc. Italian taxi drivers do not stop on the road with a wave of their hand. Taxis are called or taken from the parking lot.

Rotunda Square - video