The Porta del Popolo connects the Piazzale Flaminio to the Piazza del Popolo in Rome and is named for the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo.
Porta del Popolo Rome
It was constructed in 1561 by the architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola who used a design by Michelangelo.
The Porta del Popolo is built where the ancient Roman Porta Flaminia used to be located. At the time this was the most important gate in the Aurelian Walls in Rome, connecting the Capitol Hill, by means of the Via Flaminia, to the Ponte Milvio and from there to the city of Rimini on the other coast of Italy. (The part of the old Via Flaminia that is inside the city walls is nowadays Rome’s most important shopping street, Via del Corso).
Pope Sixtus IV had the old Porta Flaminia demolished because he wanted to make a more imposing entrance to the city for the many pilgrims arriving from the north.
The Porta del Popolo in detail
The pillars on each side were taken from the old Saint Peter’s Basilica, which had just been destroyed to make place for the present one.
When Queen Christina of Sweden visisted Rome in 1655 Pope Alexander VII had the inside of the gate redesigned by Bernini in her honor. The pope’s coat of arms (6 stones and a star) was placed above the entrance with a sign bidding welcome to the Queen: “Felici Faustoque Evento”.
Until 1877 there were two square towers on each side of the gate. These were demolished in order to make place for the two extra entrances.
The statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul were added in 1658 by Francesco Mochi.