The northeastern districts of Rome stretch from the market streets of Piazza di Spagna to the once bourgeois district of the Esqueline Hill.
Like other noble Roman families, the Borghese family, to which Pope Paul V (1605-21) belonged, had to have both a palace in the city and a summer or "weekend" residence in the country. Cardinal Camillo Borghese accordingly bought a palace near the Tiber and on becoming Pope as Paul V presented it to his brothers Orazio and Francesco. The palace, begun by the architect Martino Lunghi, was completed for the Borghese family by Flaminio Ponzio to a plan which earned it the name of "Cembalo" (harpsichord), with the "keyboard" towards the Tiber. The sumptuous appointments of the palace reflected all the magnificence of a Papal family. The courtyard with its double row of arcades, its ancient statues, its garlands, its figures of youths and putti is a haven of peace for the visitor coming in from the noise and bustle of the streets. Opposite the Palazzo, where once the carriages stood, are the servants quarters.
Santi Cosma e Damiano
This church, dedicated to the two Oriental doctor saints Cosmas and Damian, was converted in the sixth century from a Roman building in Vespasian's Forum of Peace, hence its aisleless ground plan. In the 17th century the interior was decorated in Baroque style. The church has a fine wooden ceiling of 1632 and a medieval Easter candle with Cosmatesque decoration. It is, however, notable for the mosaics on the triumphal arch and in the apse, which date from the reign of Pope Felix IV (526-530). On the triumphal arch are scenes from the Book of Revelation. In the apse the "transmission of the Divine Law", in which Christ is depicted handing the scroll of the Law to Peter and Paul, flanked by SS Cosmas and Damian, St Theodore and Pope Felix IV. The Christmas crib (Nativity scene) in the vestibule is one of the largest in Rome and of considerable artistic quality.
Piazza del Quirinale
The square in front of the Quirinal Palace, residence of the President of Italy, is one of the most beautiful in Rome, offering a panoramic view of the city extending west to St Peter's. In the center of the square is the famous Dioscuri Fountain, with the 14m/46ft high obelisk which formerly stood at the entrance to the Mausoleum of Augustus and the 5.6m/18ft high figures of the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux as horse-tamers) from the nearby Baths of Constantine. Opposite the Quirinal Palace is the sumptuously decorated Palazzo della Consulata, built by Ferdinando Fuga in 1734 for Pope Clement XII to house the Papal court, the Tribunale della Sacra Consulta. The palace is now occupied by the Corte Costituzionale, the Italian supreme court.
This palace, on the way up to the Quirinal hill, was built (1611-16) by Vasanzio and Maderna for Cardinal Scipione Borghese and later enlarged for the French statesman Cardinal Mazarin, who was of Italian origin. It now belongs to the Pallavicini-Rospigliosi family and contains the Pallavicini picture collection, which includes early works by Rubens and works by Botticelli, Poussin, Lotto, Signorelli, Van Dyck and Ribera. In the small garden is the Pallavicini, the principal room in which has a famous ceiling painting of Aurora by Guido Reni.
Sant'Andrea della Valle
The beauty of the facade and dome of the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle is best seen from the Corso del Rinascimento; a distinctive feature is the angel with outspread wings on the left-hand side, taking the place of a volute (there is no corresponding feature on the right-hand side). Sant'Andrea, served by the Theatines (a preaching order), is very popular with the people of Rome - as is evidenced by the fact that Puccini sets the first act of "Tosca" in the Cappella Allavanti, the first chapel in the south aisle of the church. The architects responsible for Sant'Andrea (Francesco Grimaldi, Giacomo della Porta, Carlo Maderna and Carlo Rainaldi) followed the model of the Gesù church, some 500 yards away; many features are clearly reminiscent of that church - the two-story travertine facade with its plastic structure, the nave (high and wide, but yet creating an effect of harmony and unity) with its side chapels, transept, choir and apse, and the mighty dome (the second largest in Rome, after the dome of St Peter's) - and indeed the ground plan of Sant'Andrea is almost indistinguishable from that of the Gesù. The side chapels contain some fine pictures and statues, but the most notable features of the interior are the tombs of two Popes belonging to the Piccolomini family of Siena which were brought here from St Peter's in 1614 and now stand in the nave near the north transept: the humanist Pope Pius II (Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, d. 1464) on the left and Pope Pius III (Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, d. 1503) on the right. Both tombs were the work of Paolo Taccone and Andrea Bregno. The magnificent frescoes in the dome and the semi-dome of the apse were painted by Domenichino (1624-28).
Palazzo di Propaganda Fide
Diagonally opposite the Palazzo di Spagna, now the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, is the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide built for Popes Gregory XV and Urban VIII by Bernini and Borromini. This is the headquarters of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, an organization established in the 16th century to promote the missionary activities of the Church. In front of the two palaces is an ancient column bearing a figure of the Virgin, the Column of the Immaculate Conception, around the base of which are the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, together with Moses and David. Every year on December eighth the Pope comes to the column to commemorate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.
To the north of the Trinità dei Monti church, a few paces from the Piazza di Spagna, is the Villa Medici, a late Renaissance mansion with a severe main front and a richly articulated garden front to the rear, facing the Pincio. The villa was built by Annibale Lippe in 1544 for Cardinal Ricci da Montepulciano. It later passed to the Medici and the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, and was finally occupied in Napoleonic times by the French Academy, a foundation (still existing) for French artists. From 1630-33 Galileo was imprisoned in the villa on the order of the Inquisition.
Palazzo (Casa) Zuccari
The Palazzo or Casa Zuccari, built by the painter Federico Zuccari about 1600 as a residence and studio, stands at the east end of Piazza Trinità dei Monti, between Via Sistina and Via Gregoriana. It was later occupied by the widowed Queen Maria Kasimira of Poland and is now the seat of the Biblioteca Hertziana, an institute of art history attached to the German Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (not open to the public). The doorway and windows of the palace are formed by the jaws of monsters.
The Porta Tiburtina, the city gate on the road to Tivoli, the Via Tiburtina, was originally built in the reign of Augustus as an arch supporting the Marcia, Tepula and Julia aqueducts. A gate flanked by towers was built in front of the arch in the reign of Honorius (beginning of the fifth century).
The barracks of the Praetorian Guard, the Emperor's personal bodyguard, were built by Tiberus' minister Sejanus in A.D. 23 on a site measuring 460x300m/500x330yd. The barracks, with their fortifications, were later incorporated by Aurelius in the city walls.