Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is a large urban square in Rome.
Piazza del Popolo is a large square in Rome. The name in modern Italian literally means "People's Square", but historically it derives from the poplars (populus in Latin, pioppo in Italian) after which the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the northeast corner of the piazza, takes its name.
The Piazza del Popolo lies inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, once the Porta Flaminia of Ancient Rome, and now called Porta del Popolo. This was the starting point of the Via Flaminia, the road to Ariminum (modern Rimini) and the most important route to the north. At the same time, before the age of railroads, it was the traveller's first view of Rome upon arrival. For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826.
To the north of the Piazza del Popolo stand the Porta del Popolo, leading to the Piazzale Flaminio, and the ancient church of Santa Maria del Popolo. The Porta del Popolo was reconstructed to the current appearance by Pope Alexander VII in 1655, to welcome Queen Christina of Sweden to Rome after her conversion to Roman Catholicism and abdication. It was designed by Bernini: whereas such festive structures elsewhere were built of weather-resistant plaster, in Rome the structure was more permanently executed in stone. Opposite Santa Maria del Popolo stands a Carabinieri station, with a dome reflecting that of the church.