Pantheon Rome

The Pantheon is one of Rome’s Top 10 tourist attractions and one of the city’s best preserved monuments. Although it started its existence as a pagan temple dedicated to all the Gods it is at present a Catholic church and officially called Santa Maria ad Martyres. It has survived virtually unaltered since it was erected in the 2nd century AD. The structure of its domed interior is unique in Rome. Continue reading “Pantheon Rome”

Piazza della Minerva Rome

The Piazza della Minerva is located in the center of Rome, in the rione Pigna. It is named after the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, in its turn named after a temple built by Pompey and dedicated to Minerva Calcidica. Its biggest attraction is the Minerva Obelisk, also known as Bernini’s Elephant.

Piazza della Minerva Rome

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with Bernini's Elephant in Rome
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with Bernini’s Elephant

The Piazza della Minerva is indirectly named after the Minerva Calcidica Temple. The statue of Minerva that stood in this temple is now to be seen in the Vatican Museums.

One claim to fame the Piazza della Minerva has is that it is the lowest square in Rome and therefore always the first one to be flooded. 15th and 16th century inscriptions on the side of the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church show how high the water rose.

The Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church is the only Gothic church in Rome, although this is not directly visible in the exterior part of the building. Highlights in the church itself are a “Resurrected Christ” by Michelangelo and a fresco by Filippino Lippi.

The most important attraction on the square is the Minerva Obelisk, a statue of an elephant with an obelisk on its back, made by Bernini. In 1667 the obelisk was moved to its present spot from the Iseo Campense. Although the elephant was designed by Bernini, it was sculpted by Ercole Ferrata.

The building to the right of the church is the Palazzo Fonseca and since 1832 houses the Grand Hotel de la Minerve.

Directly across from the church the Palazzo dell’Accademia Ecclesiastica can be seen. Here the diplomats of the Vatican City obtain their training.

The writer Stendhal used to live on the Piazza della Minerva (n. 66) for a while.

From the square the back of the Pantheon with the ruins of the Baths of Agrippa can be seen. The baths were built between 27 and 25 BC and are the oldest of the city.

Address and public transport

The nearest bus stop is Argentina (lines 30, 40, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 190F, 492, 628, 916, 916F, N5, N6, N7, N15, N20, SHOP1).

Piazza della Minerva – Rome

Largo di Torre Argentina Rome

The Sacred Area at the Largo di Torre Argentina is a complex of ruins in the center of Rome. It lies several feet below the present street level and is especially known for its cat sanctuary. Continue reading “Largo di Torre Argentina Rome”

Palazzo Altieri

The Palazzo Altieri is a historical building in the Pigna district in the center of Rome.

Palazzo Altieri Rome

Address, opening times and admission

The address of the Palazzo Altieri is Piazza del Gesù, 49 – Rome, but the entrance is in the Via degli Astalli 19 (tel. +39 ). Bus: 30, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 190F, 492, 628, 916, 916F, N5, N6, N7, N15, N20. Openingstimes and admission: The building is usually not open for visitors.

History and description

The building is named for the family who owned it, the Altieri. They also owned a number of other properties in the area, including several buildings that were later destroyed in order to be able to construct the Chiesa del Gesù.

Fresco in the Palazzo Altieri
Interior Palazzo Altieri

When Giambattista Altieri became cardinal (1643) he of course needed a residence in accordance with his new status and the architect Giovanni Antonio De Rossi was given the task to redesign the Piazza del Gesù.

An interesting detail is that one woman, a widow named Berta, refused to abandon her home and thus De Rossi came up with the idea to incorporate it into the new Palazzo Altieri. The two smaller windows used to belong to Berta‘s house.

When the Cardinal died and the building was completed (1655) it was smaller than it is now and the courtyard was not there yet.

In those days being a Cardinal ran in the family and in 1679 it was Giambattista‘s brother Emilio Altieri‘s turn. He had been appointed by Pope Clement IX, whose successor he became, as Clement X, only one year later.

Obviously Popes need bigger residencies than Cardinals and De Rossi was told to enlarge the palazzo. He kept the original façade but enlarged the structure itself to the right and to the back, also adding the courtyard.

Nowadays part of the Palazzo Altieri is owned by Associazione Bancaria Italiana and can only rarely be visited.

Piazza del Gesù, 49 – Rome

Palazzo Venezia Museum Rome

The Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia (Palazzo Venezia National Museum) is housed in the building of the same name. Its collection mainly consists of late medieval art.

Palazzo Venezia Museum Rome

Address, opening hours, admission

Address: Via del Plebiscito, 118 – Rome. Tel: +39 066780131 (information and bookings). District: Pigna. Opening hours: tuesday to Sunday from 08.30 till 19.30 hours. Closed: Mondays, May 1, December 25. Online reservations: Admission: 5 Euros; EU citizens 18-25: 2,50 Euros; free for anybody below the age of 18; free for anybody on the first Sunday of the month. Museum passes: Roma Pass.

History and description

Saint Peter Crying by Guercino
Saint Peter Crying by Guercino

The Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia opened its doors in 1916. Since that time it has been Rome’s main museum for medieval and Renaissance art. The initial exhibtion consisted of collections from other museums (The Kircher Museum, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica and the art works displayed during the 1911 International Art Exhibition in the Castel Sant’Angelo).

Gradually the collection became bigger and weapons, medals and porcelain were added.

After World War I wooden sculptures and sacred jewelery found after an earthquake in Abruzzo (1915) became part of the collection. Later these objects were returned to Abruzzo itself.

The main addition to the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia occurred in 1933, when Henriette Tower and George Wurts donated their private art collection.

After World War II the collection continued growing. There are now 43 rooms with works of art of all kinds, including those the former collection or the now closed Museo Artistico Industriale.

The Barbo Apartment is used for temporary exhibitions.

Via del Plebiscito, 118 – Rome

Crypta Balbi Museum Rome

The Museo della Crypta Balbi is located in a building between the Via delle Botteghe Oscure and the Via Castani. The complex consists of two medieval buildings on the Via delle Botteghe Oscure and the “Dormitorio Barberiano” on the Via Caetini. It is one of the four seats of the Museo Nazionale Romano.

Crypta Balbi Museum Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via delle Botteghe Oscure, 31 – Rome (tel. +39 06 6780167). Opening hours: 09.00 till 19.45. Closed: Monday, January 1, December 25. Admission: 10 Euros (EU citizens age 18-25: 5 Euros; any nationality age 0-17: free). Combi-ticket Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Terme di Diocleziano: 12 Euros (discount: 6 Euros). There can be a surcharge of 3 Euros in case of special exhibitions.

History and desciption

The original connections and hallways between the buildings were kept intact.

Thanks to the archeological excavations that started in the 80’s and took about 20 years it has been possible to get a good idea of the different building methods through the centuries.

In the Roman times there was a big courtyard with a portico around it, which was connected to the Theater of Balbo. During the middle ages and the Renaissance this courtyard was transformed and became part of the 8th century Monastero di Santa Maria Domine Rose, the 11th century patricians’ houses  behind the walls of the Crypta and the 16th century Conservatorio di Santa Caterina dei Funari.

The ground floor of the museum shows the developments in the historical center of Rome, as understood from the excavations, while the 1st floor highlights Roman culture between the 5th and 10th centuries, by showcasing tools used by the artisans of the time.

Except for the artifacts found in the Crypt itself there are also objects found in the Fori Imperiali and on the Colle Oppio and Celio hills.

The important coin collection comprises the Gnecchi and the Vittorio Emanuele III collections.

Via delle Botteghe Oscure, 31 – Rome

Palazzo Venezia Rome

The Palazzo Venezia, seat of the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia, is located in the Via del Plebescito 118 in the center of Rome.

Palazzo Venezia Rome

It was constructed in 1451 by the Venetian Pietro Barbo (later Pope Paul II), at the time the titular Cardinal of the nearby Basilica of Saint Mark.

When Lorenzo Cibo, the nephew of Pope Innocent VIII, became its owner, he had it enlarged along the Via del Plebescito.

The building is designed in a style reminiscent of Tuscany. Its main aspects are the Loggia of the Benedictions and the “Corridor of the Cardinals”, a walkway overlooking the Via degli Astalli.

The palazzo underwent big changes in 1911, when the Monument for Vittorio Emanuele II was constructed. Part of the building was moved and attached, stone for stone, to the other side.

In 1916 Palazzo Venezia became property of the Italian State and was turned into a museum. Before that time it had served as an Embassy, first of the Republic of Venice and then of Austria.

From 1929 to 1943 Mussolini made it into the residence of the Head of State and the Grand Council of Fascism. The famous news reels of Mussolini addressing the crowds took place from a balcony of the Palazzo Venezia.

The talking statue of Madama Lucrezia can be seen outside the building.

Via del Plebiscito, 118 – Rome

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church Rome

The Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is a church in the historical center of Rome. It is partly famous because some important people are buried in it, partly because it contains works of art by masters such as Michelangelo and Bernini, and partly because of the obelisk that is place right in front of it, on the back of a little sculpted baby elephant. Continue reading “Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church Rome”