From Porta del Popolo to Porta Pinciana


1_Porta Flaminia-Porta Pinciana
The first part of this itinerary, which is outside the walls although it does follow the ancient route, is an appreciation of the work of the nineteenth century architect Giuseppe Valadier. Starting from the left hand side of the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, a modern wall replaces the Roman one until it reaches the spur of the Pincio, known as the Muro Torto. Already involved in various interventions in ancient times, the latter is linked to the figure of St. Peter, so much so that, as we are told by the historian Procopius of Caesarea, this part of city was saved by Belisarius’s troops during the siege by the Goths.
The walls then return to the original route, marked by 29 towers until the Porta Pinciana, 25 of them still visible. An interesting landmark in the area inside the walls, on the Pincio, or the collis hortulorum as it was known in ancient times, is the Renaissance Villa Medici, now the seat of the French Academy, where Porta Popolo and Porta Pinciana ideally represent the monumental entrance.

Pictures by permission from Roma Capitale-Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali
Further reproduction prohibited

Piazza del Popolo
Always visible.

This gate enabled the passage of via Flaminia, a strategic road connecting the city of Rome to the territories to the north. Its original appearance was the same as the Porta Appia-San Sebastiano, with a single opening flanked by semi-circular towers. Known as “di S. Valentino” in the 10th century, due to its vicinity to the catacombs and basilica named after the bishop and Christian martyr of the same name, it was named “del Popolo” during the 15th century, after the church of S. Maria del Popolo. Its current appearance dates back to the 16th century. The external façade was commissioned by Pope Pius IV from Michelangelo, but built by Nanni di Baccio Bigio. The statues of St. Peter and St. Paul are by the sculptor Francesco Mochi and were placed between the 4 columns from the ancient Basilica of St. Peter’s during the 17th century. The inside part is by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and was inaugurated on 23 December 1655 for the visit to Rome by Queen Cristina of Sweden. The side entrances were opened in 1877.

Piazzale Brasile
Always visible.

In 275, the Emperor Aurelian built a simple postern through which the via Salaria Vetus passed. The construction was built of bricks, was one storey tall and only had one tower. The gate was restored by Maxentius in 310 and later, 403, Honorius modified the layout, transforming the small opening in the walls into a monumental gate that was strategically vital for the defence of the city. A much wider opening than the original one was built, covered in travertine blocks, an attic was built with an upper tunnel and a chamber for manoeuvers with a portcullis, a second tower and a storm door inside were added. At this time, the towers had a first floor with small opening for archers to shoot from, a second and third floor for the ballista’s and a concrete dome as covering.

How to get the step: From Porta del Popolo to Porta Pinciana

Piazza del Popolo, 8, 00187 Roma, Italy


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