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© Copyright 2018

Gianluca Pica
 


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BLOG OF A TOUR GUIDE IN ROME

01/07/2019, 07:36

#unaguidaturisticaroma, #romeisus, #rome, #roma, #piazza, #popolo, #bernini, #architettura, #michelangelo



"PORTA-DEL-POPOLO":-THE-NORTHERN-GATE-OF-ROME
"PORTA-DEL-POPOLO":-THE-NORTHERN-GATE-OF-ROME


 Porta del Popolo was the northern entrance of Rome for centuries. And still today, reading the inscriptions or looking at the decorations we can know several things about it...



"Porta del Popolo" (the "Door of the People" in Italian) takes its name from the nearby basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, which was erected at the XI century AD. Originally the gate was called "Porta Flaminia", from the Flaminia road, one of the most ancient roman consular ways. It is linking still today Rome with Rimini, at the north of Italy. Now try to imagine what this entrance could mean, over the centuries, for all the people who would like to reach Rome from the northern lands: popes, bankers, beggers, artists, travellers, writers, merchants. For all of them Rome symbolized an opportunity, a border between their ancient lifes and a new fate. In some degree "Porta del Popolo" became a symbol, that was restored over the centuries. The northern side was embellished by the Pope Pio IV in the mid of the XVI century. As for another gate, Porta Pia, the Pope called Michelangelo for the restorations, but it seems that the master had things to do, so much that he empowered the works to another important architect of the Renaissance Age, Nanni di Baccio Bigio. The original towers were turn to square defensive towers. The four columns that you can see on the photo came from the old St Peter’s Basilica, before the reconstruction would by the Pope Julius II from the 1506. The there are the inscriptions, used to celebrate the new restorations, but also the two marble statues depicting St Peter and St Paul, the two patrons of Rome. There is a nice story behind them. They were sculpted by Francesco Mochi, a famous sculptor of the XVII century. The sponsors was the Basilica of St Paul, but it seems that the monks who were managing the sacred place didn’t like the works of art, so much that the poor Mochi was not paied! They refused them, and it is the reason why they could be seen here and not in their original location. Now think about the other side of the "Porta del Popolo", that one facing the big square of Piazza del Popolo. In this case the restoration was made by Bernini, the master of the Baroque age at the XVII century. It was commissioned by the Pope Alexader VII Chigi, and it is the reason why the top of the gate is embellished with the coat of arm of the Chigi family: a small mountain with six peaks surmonted by a star with eight points. In this case the Pope decided to restore the "Porta del Popolo" for the arrival in Rome of an important VIP: the Sweden Queen Cristina. Why should the Pope call Bernini, the best artist of that time, in order to restore the gate? Simply because Queen Cristina was a sort of political symbol. She was the daughter of the Sweden King who lead the Protestant armies against the Christian ones during the War of the Thirty Years, that caused blooshed Europe. But although her origins she embraced the Christian faith, becoming a symbol of the power of the Holy Church! The Pope was lucky when he understood that the Queen Cristina would like to spend some months in Rome. So you can think that all the restorations of this gate should be made in a wonderful way...not in this case, mainly if you read the inscription. No homages, no eulogies, nothins special. It is also strange that the inscription which was used to celebrate the arrival of the Queen Cristina was put on the side facing the square, not that one facing the Via Flaminia, the road used by her. So for the queen was not so easy to read the inscription, because she should turn her head! Something curious if you think that the Queen Cristina was more than an ordinary queen. Maybe the Pope didn’t love her character: it seems that she was strong but also very influential. Maybe the Pope didn’t like that this important VIP was a woman, who knows. What we know is how, still today, this incredible gate could impress us... #unaguidaturisticaroma #romeisus #Rome#Roma #atourguiderome #porta #piazzadelpopolo #piazza #bernini #papa #pope#flaminia #regina


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