Piazza Navona is one of the most famous and arguably the most beautiful of Rome's many squares.
Piazza Navona is a city square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the ancient Roman Stadium of Domitian, built in first century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. It was where the Romans came to watch the agones ("games") and was known as 'Circus Agonalis' (competition arena). It is believed that over time the name changed to 'in agone' to 'navone' and eventually to 'navona'.
The two other fountains on the piazza Navona are the Fontana di Nettuno (Neptune fountain) at the northern end and the Fontana del Moro (Moor fountain) at the southern end. The Fontana del Nettuno , also known as the Calderari, was built in 1576 by Giacomo della Porta. The statues, Neptune surrounded by sea nymphs were added in the 19th century. Giacomo della Porta also built the Fontana del Moro. The central statue of a Moor holding a dolphin, a design by Bernini, was added in the 17th century. The tritons are 19th century additions.
The main attraction of the Piazza Navona are the three fountains. The central and largest fountain is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (fountain of the Four rivers). It was constructed between 1647 and 1651 on request of the Pope Innocent X.
The design of the fountain was first commissioned to Borromini, but it was ultimately handed to Bernini. The fountain features four figures, each representing a river from a different continent - the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio della Plata. The statues are at the base of a rock supporting an obelisk, originally located at the Massenzio Circus.
Another highlight on the Navona square is the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. It was commissioned in 1652 by Pope Innocent X and built on the site where according to legend, St. Agnes was stripped naked, but miraculously saved from disgrace by extraordinary growth of hair.
During its history, the piazza Navona has hosted theatrical events and other ephemeral activities. From 1652 until 1866, when the festival was suppressed, it was flooded on every Saturday and Sunday in August in elaborate celebrations of the Pamphilj family. The pavement level was raised in the 19th century and the market was moved again in 1869 to the nearby Campo de' Fiori. A Christmas market is held in the piazza Navona.