piazza navona rome

Piazza Navona Rome: Fountains, Facts and History

A favourite square in Rome amongst visitors and locals alike, the Piazza Navona, Rome is an absolute must-see when in Rome. Surrounded on all sides by beautiful baroque architecture, this piazza inspires all in those who are lucky enough to pass through it.

Check out our guide to the Piazza Navona, Rome. Impress your travel companions with your knowledge about the Piazza Navona fountains and the square’s history. Stake out the best eateries around, and uncover the best Piazza Navona hotels. You will be armed with all you need to really enjoy the experience!

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Piazza Navona Rome – History

The Domitian Stadium used to stand right in the spot of the Piazza Navona. It was named after the Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus, who bestowed the stadium upon his people around 80AD.

Used primarily as a sports stadium, the arena could hold up to 20,000 people and followed a similar design to the Colosseum. It is believed that the “agones” – games – were watched by many and that the name eventually changed somehow from “agones” to “avones” and eventually to “Navona”.

piazza navona rome

Piazza Navona Rome – Facts

The glorious Piazza Navona fountains are the focal point of this square – we will tell you more about them in a bit. First – read on for some interesting Piazza Navona facts!

A swimming pool ?

This fact is so good it is nearly unbelievable! In the 17th Century Pope Innocent X used to block up the water outlet in the fountains so the square would flood. The reason? To let the local residents have a place to cool off in the summer sun! Now, that’s a cool Pope!

A ghostly tale

Rumour has it that, if you catch the light right during the full moon, you will see the shadow of a hand! It is said to be that of Costanza de Cupis who had her hand cut off to avoid infection! Gross.

Christmas in Rome

The Piazza Navona is home to a gorgeous Christmas market famous with both locals and tourists alike. Try to check it out if you are on a winter break in Rome!

piazza navona rome Christmas Market

Piazza Navona and Ancient Rome Guided Tours

If you want to know more about the facts and history of the Piazza Navona why not take one of the Piazza Navona and Ancient Rome guided tours.

There are several on offer, but the best ones feature a guided walking tour around the area and usually include the Colosseum. Gaze in awe at the square whilst listening to a knowledgeable guide tell you all you need to know about the area. Most tours also provide you with headsets so you won’t miss a thing!

Piazza Navona guided tours options:

Guided toursHighlightsPriceDurationBooking
Free walking tour of Rome Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, Trevi Fountaine… free 2-hours Book here
Rome by Night – walking tour Renaissance squares and famous piazzas Rome From €60 3-hours Book here
Rome by Night – minibus + walking tour most famous piazzas and monuments in Rome + Vatican & Colosseum From €25 3-hours Book here
Rome monuments and piazzas walking tour Pantheon, Trevi, Navona, famous piazzas… €39 €91 2,5-hours Day tour Book here
church sant'agnes in agone piazza navona

Piazza Navona Fountains

The fountains in the Piazza Navona are what tourists come for in their droves! Check them out here:

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers – which is a melange of Christianity’s most important rivers – hosts an obelisk and is perhaps the most well-known of the Piazza Navona’ s fountains.

piazza navona fontana dei quattro fiumi

Fontana del Moro

The Moorish Fountain was originally known as the sea shell fountain, and is home to a number of statues. A little known fact however is that these are actually replica statues. You can see the originals at the Villa Borghese. It was a pretty good decision to move them – as a crazy person attacked the replicas with a weapon and beheaded them in 2011!

Fontana del Nettuno

Neptune’s fountain is the third fountain you can see in the Piazza Navona. The architect for this was Giacomo Della Porta, who got the gig for the Fontana del Moro too. The sculpture of Neptune battling with a huge octopus was added later in 1873 in order to try to match the grandeur of the other 2 fountains in the square.

piazza navona rome fontana del nettuno

Best time to visit the Piazza Navona Rome

There are a couple of great times at which to visit the Piazza Navona Rome:

Early Morning

We’re talking 6am here! Get up early to avoid the crowds and grab some pictures your shot is ruined by hundreds of others taking selfies!


There is something special about dusk in Rome, and the lighting in the Piazza Navona makes for a really romantic setting


The little Christmas market in the Piazza Navona is worth a look. Buy yourself some roast chestnuts and enjoy the atmosphere as the twinkly lights get you in the Christmas mood!

piazza navona rome

Piazza Navona Hotels: where to sleep

There are dozens of great hotels around the Piazza Navona, all of which are suitable for a range of budgets. Here are some examples of the best Piazza Navona hotels to get you started:

Best for: Budget – Florea Palace

This amazing hotel has rooms from just £69 a night! It is only a few hundred yards from the Piazza Navona and offers basic but chic modern style rooms in a beautiful old building.

The location alone makes it a great option for budget travellers looking to explore the area without having to rely on public transport.

florea palace hotel piazza navona

Best for: Mid-Range – Relais Fontana di Trevi

How about staying in a hotel with a view right over the Trevi fountain? Located only 5 minutes from Barberini metro station, the Relais Trevi Fountain has a roof terrace overlooking the Trevi Fountain.

It is just short 10 minute walk from here to the Piazza Navona, with rooms starting at £125 a night.

  • Book your nights here
relais fontana di trevi hotel near piazza navona

Best for: Splurge – The First Roma Dolce

For the ultimate celebration getaway or romantic treat, check out the First Roma Dolce. Just a ten-minute walk from the Piazza Navona, this opulent hotel is a real drop of luxury.

This hotel gets top marks for not only the sumptuous furnishings, but also the fabulous breakfast.

Rooms here will set you back at least £300 a night depending on the season – better get saving!

piazza navona rome first roma dolce Hotel

How to get to the Piazza Navona Rome ?

The Piazza Navona is not directly located near any metro, however many of the hop on hop off bus services do usually stop nearby (buy your pass here).

The nearest metro is about 15 minutes by foot at the Spagna station. The best way however is to get the bus – the number 40, 64 and 60 busses will take you the closest.

If you want to get around Rome by public transport, you should consider a travel pass, such as the 72-hours card. And if you're planning to buy the Roma Pass that includes free entrance to Rome top attractions, you'll be able to use transports for free!


Now you are armed with all the information you need to help you best enjoy your trip to the Piazza Navona ! Pick one of the Piazza Navona hotels, organise your spending money and get planning the rest of your trip here!