The Heart of Rome

Piazza Navona is a symbol of Baroque Rome , with architectural and sculptural elements by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (the Fountain of the Four Rivers in the center of the square, which represents the Danube , the Ganges , the Nile and the Rio della Plata , the four corners of the Earth ), Francesco Borromini and Girolamo Rainaldi (the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone , in front of the Bernini fountain) and Pietro da Cortona (author of the frescoes in the Palazzo Pamphilj gallery ). The square was supposed to celebrate the grandeur of the Pamphili family (in a sort of competition with the Barberini and Farnese families ) and Innocent X (born Giovanni Battista Pamphilj) wanted the building of the same name to be erected there and the square decorated with works of value. For the reorganization of the area, recourse was therefore made to the demolition of some blocks, while the tender for the awarding of the contracts was fought without excluding expedients among the main architects of the time; an important role in the selection of the artists was also played by the powerful Donna Olimpia Maidalchini(influential and easy-going sister-in-law of Pope Innocent X), to whom it was said, for example, that Bernini had donated a silver model of his fountain project, but according to others it was she who chose Borromini to replace Rainaldi in completing the church .

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