The Gesu Church was the idea of Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. This is the main church of the Jesuits, and attached is the house which once served as the living quarters of Ignatius.
Like many of Rome's grand palaces, Palazzo Farnese was connected to the papacy, being built for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese who would later become Pope Paul III. It is a grand display of Renaissance architecture.
The Papal Chancery was originally the palace of Cardinal Riario. It was built in the late 1400s and early 1500s, using blocks from the Colosseum, as well as other sources.
The Theater of Marcellus was built for Augustus' nephew and son-in-law Marcellus around 15 B.C. It is a free-standing structure, which was later converted to a fortress.
This fountain was created by the Florentine sculptor Taddeo Landini in 1581-84 to the design of Giacomo della Porta. From the marble basin rises a base decorated with four shells, and four slender youths with outstretched arms support the upper basin. The tortoises from which the fountain takes its name were added in the 17th century.
The Palazzo Spada was built by Giulio Mersi da Caravaggio in 1540-50 for Cardinal Girolamo Capo di Ferro. Later it passed into the hands of Cardinal Spada and was restored by Borromini. It is now the seat of the Italian Council of State, and also contains the Galleria Spada. The most notable feature of the palace is the trompe-l'oeil colonnade built by Borromini about 1635 to link two courtyards. In this passage with its twin rows of columns and coffered ceiling the apparent length is increased by a reduction in size of the structural elements from one end to the other. The four-storyed facade of the palace has elegant stucco decoration (by Giulio Mazzoni; 1556- 60) and eight statues of famous Romans (from left to right: Trajan, Pompey, Fabius Maximus, Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Marcellus, Caesar and Augustus). The rooms have rich stucco ornament, and in one room is a statue said to be the statue of Pompey beside which Caesar was murdered.
Address: Piazza Capo di Ferro 3, Via Capodiferro, I-00186 Rome, Italy
Transit: Bus: 23, 28, 28b, 65.
This gallery consists mainly of the private collection of pictures assembled by Cardinal Bernardino Spada (1594-1661); they are displayed in rooms with graceful stucco decoration. Among the fine pictures to be seen here are Baciccia's sketches for the ceiling of the Gesù Church, portraits of Cardinal Spada by Guido Reni and Guercino, Andrea del Sarto's "Visitation", Titian's unfinished "Musician" and a "Landscape with Windmill" by Pieter Breughel.
Largo di Torre Argentina
In the center of the Largo di Torre Argentina, a few feet below the level of this busy square with its swirling traffic, is the Largo Argentina temple precinct. The name Torre Argentina is derived from the tower of a house (at Via del Sudario 44) occupied by a prelate named Burckhardt from Strasbourg (Argentoratum) who was Papal master of ceremonies at the beginning of the 16th century. An alternative explanation is that the square is named after the shops of the silversmiths (argentarii) who worked in this area. The temples which were excavated here in 1926-30 are one of the few such complexes dating from the republican period. There are four temples: The rectangular Temple A (near the bus stops), with 15 columns still standing, within which was built the medieval church of San Nicola dei Cesarini (now destroyed). The adjoining Temple, circular in plan, with six columns, which once housed a seated effigy of the goddess Juno. The rectangular Temple C, the smallest and oldest (fourth or third centuries B.C.) of the temples, on a lower level than the others. Temple D, part of which is under the roadway. It is not known with certainty which gods were worshipped in these temples.
The Museo Barracco, presented to the city by Baron Giovanni Barracco in 1902, contains a small but very interesting collection of Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman sculpture, both originals and copies, illustrating the development of ancient art in the pre-Christian centuries. Particularly notable items are some Assyrian reliefs of the seventh century B.C., a sphinx with the head of Queen Hatshepsut (15th century B.C.), Greek statues of the early classical period and Etruscan cippi. Also of interest are the head of the Diadumenos (second half of fifth century B.C.) by Polycletus, the head of an Apollo (mid fifth century B.C.) ascribed to Phidias, a bust of Epicurus (c. 270 B.C.), the head of the Lycian Apollo, the "Wounded Bitch" (Lysippus) and a head of Alexander Helios (late fourth century B.C.).
Address: Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 166, I-00186 Rome, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-7pm; Sun: 9am-1pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €3.00, Concession or reduced rate €1.50, Child 17 & under FREE
Transit: Bus: 46, 62, 64, 110, 186.
San Giovanni dei Fiorentini
Pope Leo X, a member of the Florentine ruling dynasty of the Medici, being desirous of providing a church for his fellow countrymen in Rome, held an architectural competition in which both Michelangelo and Raphael took part. The competition was won, however, by Sansovino, who enlisted other architects in the building of the church - Sangallo, Michelangelo (in an advisory capacity), della Porta, Maderno, and Alessandro Galilei who was responsible for the facade. The church is impressive for its size, the exactly contrived spatial effect of the interior and the rich Baroque decoration and furnishings, including many fine paintings. The famous architects Francesco Barromini and Carlo Maderno are buried in the church.
Santa Maria di Monserrato
About the same time as the church of Santa Maria dell'Anima was built for the Germans this church was built by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder (1495 onwards) for the Aragonese and Catalans. The initiative came from the famous (or notorious) Pope Alexander VI, a member of the Spanish family of Borja (which became in Italian Borgia), who is buried in the church. Santa Maria di Monserrato (named after the famous Marian pilgrimage center of Monserrat near Barcelona) has been since 1875 the Spanish national church in Rome. Notable features of the church are the tombs of the two Borgia Popes, Calixtus III and Alexander VI, and a number of marble statues, including a bust of Cardinal Pietro Molto by Bernini (1621).
Piazza di Campo dei Fiori
It is difficult to remember that this cheerful square, in which the flower market of Rome is held every morning, was a place of execution (rarely used though it might be) during the period of Papal rule. Here on February seventh 1600 Giordano Bruno, a monk found guilty of heresy by the Inquisition and condemned to death when he refused to recant, was burned at the stake. He is commemorated by a bronze statue, under which are medallions of other heretics condemned by the Church, including Erasmus, Wycliffe and Hus.
The Palazzo Cenci was built in the 16th century on the site of the ruined Circus Flaminius (221 B.C.). According to popular tradition Francesco Cenci embellished the palace chapel in 1575 to house the tombs of his children Giacomo and Beatrice, whom he had resolved to have killed, but it was the children who murdered their father and were beheaded for the murder on the Ponte Sant'Angelo in 1599. The story provided Shelley with the theme of his verse drama "The Cenci".