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The Piazza del Popolo is a large square lying just south of a gate that once marked the northern boundary of the city of Rome.  It is oval in shape, and at the center is the second-oldest Egyptian obelisk in Rome, dating back to Sety I and Rameses II (somewhere around 1280 B.C.).  A small fountain surrounds the obelisk, and there are also fountains at the east and west ends of the square.  The current layout of the square is relatively recent, having been designed in 1811-12 by the architect Giuseppe Valadier.

Our first view of the Piazza was through foliage from a balustrade at the western edge of the Borghese Gardens.  The square was covered with white tentlike structures, giving us the impression that some sort of outdoor retail event was pending.  From the balustrade we followed a pathway to the left (apparently there is also a stairway to the right) that took us down to the Piazza.


Piazza del Popolo
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Eastern Fountain and Pincio Balcony

Western Fountain

From the center of the Piazza, we noticed two churches to the south which looked almost exactly alike, with a street passing between them.  These churches are Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto, and they date back to about 1680.  Santa Maria dei Miracoli, the one on the right, was covered in scaffolding, probably for some repair work (renovation is probably out of the question).  Neither church was open.

Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli

To the north we could see an archway (the Porto del Popolo, designed by Bernini), marking where the northern gate to the city had been, and to the right of the archway we noticed another church.  This church was the older Santa Maria del Popolo church (built in its present form in 1472-77), and it was open.  Inside were several artworks of note, created by such people as Caravaggio, Bernini, Annibale Carracci and Raphael.

Main Altar

Decoration Near Dome

Ceiling Decoration

Ceiling, Cerasi Chapel

Tomb of Maria Flaminia Odescalchi Chigi (18th C.)

Tomb of Sigismondo Chigi (16th C.)

Tomb of G.B. Gisleni (1670)

Just to the north of the Porto del Popolo, we found the Flaminio Metro stop.  The Metro system in Rome is not very extensive (one must take buses or walk to reach many destinations), but it happened to go directly to our next destination, the Spanish Steps, and since the fare was included in our Roma Passes, we boarded the train and traveled south one stop to the Spagna station.

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