Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo is one of the most famous squares of Rome. The origin of the square's name is uncertain: there is an etymology which derives 'people' from the Latin populus (poplar), based on the tradition that there was, in the area, a forest of poplars. It is known, however, that Pope Paschal II built a chapel near the walls, at the expense of the Roman people (one of which was later built the present church of Santa Maria del Popolo): the people was the Virgin Mary, became the People's square. On the square are three churches. The oldest is the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, on the side of the door. It was erected over the tomb of the Domizi where Nerone was buried in the eleventh century by Pope Paschal II and rebuilt under Pope Sixtus IV by Baccio Pontelli and Andrea Bregno between 1472 and 1477. Between 1655 and 1660, Pope Alexander VII decided to restore the church and commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Nanni di Baccio Bigio in 1562-1565, commissioned by Pope Pius IV, modified the external facade of the Porta del Popolo. In 1589 Pope Sixtus V erected a large Flaminio Obelisk at the center of the square, 24 meters high, built at the time of the pharaohs Ramesses II and Merneptah (1232-1220 BC), brought to Rome under Augustus and previously placed in the Circus Maximus. The twin churches, as they are called Santa Maria in Montesanto (1675) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli (1678), were built at the behest of Alexander VII. The two buildings that give the square a Baroque style, are initiated by Carlo Rainaldi and completed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, with the collaboration of Carlo Fontana. The shape of the square took on the present conformation only at the end of the nineteenth century, following the intervention of the architect Giuseppe Valadier. Thanks to his intervention, the square took on its present elliptical shape, and was also settled the area of ​​the slopes of the Pincio, filleting Piazza del Popolo and the hill with the trees decorated with wide ramps. The project was completed in 1834 and the terrace of the Pincio became one of the most famous walks in Rome, attended by the people, the bourgeoisie, the nobility, the churchmen and the popes themselves.

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