Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Piazza Navona is still shaped like the 1st-century Stadium of Domitian, on the ruins of which it is constructed. The games played in the stadium were called agones and it was known as Circus Agonalis. Over the years, that became “in avone,” and ultimately “navona.” It’s known for its beautiful fountains, the most famous of which is Bernini’s 1651 Four Rivers Fountain, named for the four major rivers of the four continents through which the Catholic Church had spread (the African Nile, the European Danube, the Asian Gange, and the New World’s Río de la Plata).

There are two other less spectacular, but still quite nice fountains flanking the Four Rivers, the 1575 Moor’s Fountain (so called because Bernini added a statue of a Moor - African - wrestling with a dolphin to it in 1673) and the 1574 Neptune’s Fountain (Neptune having been added in 1878 for artistic balance with the Moor’s Fountain).

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