Piazza Colonna

This piazza is situated at the midpoint of Via del Corso and the Romans consider it the center of the city. It has a long column (colonna) after which the piazza has been named. This column was erected by Marcus Aurelius to celebrate his victories in Persia, Germany and Armenia. He built it in memory of his father Antonio Pius. This column was erected between 180-196 A.D. It is made of marble and there are scenes in relief of the wars fought by the emperor winding all the way to the top. It is similar to the older

column of Trajan. Giacomo della Porta designed an elegant fountain in 1575. It has a basin decorated with 16 lion’s heads. In 183o a small basin with two dolphin’s heads was placed here. In 1588-9 Pope Sixtus V restored the column and added the statue of St. Paul at the top of the column.

In the middle ages this square had a lot of houses belonging to the old and aristocratic families of Rome. This was the scene till the 18th century when the square became the area for fruit and vegetable vendors. After the 1870’s a string of fashionable restaurants was the norm with table services by waitresses. In the 19th century Benito Mussolini used to speak from the balcony of Palazzo Chigi.

On the eastern side of piazza colonna one can find the Galleria Colonna. This large building was built in 1922. It has an inner passage with many shops.

On the southern side of the piazza one can find the Palazzo Ferraioli. Francesco Piparelli designed this in 1627. However Giovanni Antonio de Rossi completed it in 1642. There is also a small church in the vicinity- the church of St. Bartholomew of Bergarnaschi whose façade was designed by Carlo di Dominicius in 1731. Next to this there is an interesting 18th century portal.

Palazzo Chigi is perhaps the most important building in this piazza. A cardinal who was a nephew of Pope Clement VIII originally built it. Initially it housed the Foreign Ministry but is now the house of the prime Minister and this is the reason why piazza colonna is heavily armed with police and security.

This center of Italy’s capital is at the confluence of busy shopping streets including the Via del Tritone, which leads to the Via Veneto and Via del Corso, which is the oldest and longest avenue in Rome.