The Piazza Navona in Rome

The Piazza Navona is a public plaza located on the site of the former Stadium of Domitian, popularly known as the Circus Agonalis.  The centerpiece of the square is the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  The Obelisk of Domitian dominates the center of the fountain.  The piazza is dominated by the baroque church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.  The epithet “in Agone” refers to the Circus Agonalis, the site where Saint Agnes was martyred.

The four rivers in the name of the fountain refer to great rivers in four continents:  the Nile River in Africa, the Danube River in Europe, the Ganges River in Asia, and the Rio de la Plata in the Americas.  The rivers represented by each four figures on the fountain can easily be identified.  The head of the figure representing the Nile is covered by a cloth because nobody at the time knew where headwaters of the Nile originated.  The figure representing the Danube is touching the Papal Coat of Arms since the Danube is the river closest to Rome.  The figure representing the Ganges carries an oar, showing that the Ganges is navigable.  Finally, the figure representing the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver) is sitting on a pile of silver coins and cowering in fright from a snake that may want to steal the coins.

The Piazza Navonna

The Piazza Navona

SOURCE:  The Piazza Navona (Rome, Lazio, Italy); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 12 August 2011.

The Fountain of Four Rivers - East Side

The Fountain of Four Rivers – East Side

SOURCE:  The Fountain of Four Rivers – East Side (Rome, Lazio, Italy); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 12 August 2011.

The Fountain of Four Rivers - West Side

The Fountain of Four Rivers – West Side

SOURCE:  The Fountain of Four Rivers – West Side (Rome, Lazio, Italy); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 12 August 2011.

The Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone

The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone

SOURCE:  The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone (Rome, Lazio, Italy); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 12 August 2011.

Copyright © 2011 by Stephen J. Danko

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