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Piazza della Rotonda, Rome

4.4
#51 of 526 in Historic Sites in Rome
The Piazza della Rotonda is a piazza (city square) in Rome, Italy, on the south side of which is located the Pantheon. The square gets its name from the Pantheon's informal title as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda.HistoryAlthough the Pantheon has stood from antiquity, the area in front of it had over the centuries become choked with a maze of sheds and small shops that had grown up around its columns. These medieval accretions were cleared by order of Pope Eugenius IV (1431–39) and the piazza was laid out and paved. It took its name from the Pantheon, which had been converted in the 7th century AD into a Christian church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" but informally known as Santa Maria Rotonda. The piazza is roughly rectangular, approximately 60 meters north to south and 40 meters east to west, with a fountain and obelisk in the center and the Pantheon on the south side.During the 19th century, the piazza was especially noted for its market of bird-sellers, who brought their cages with live parrots, nightingales, owls, and other birds into the piazza. A traveler in 1819 remarked that during Twelfth Night celebrations in Rome the Piazza della Rotonda was "in particular distinguished by the gay appearance of the fruit and cake-stalls, dressed with flowers and lighted with paper lanterns."Charlotte Anne Eaton, an English traveller who visited in 1820, was much less impressed with the piazza and deplored how a visitor would find himself "surrounded by all that is most revolting to the senses, distracted by incessant uproar, pestered with a crowd of clamorous beggars, and stuck fast in the congregated filth of every description that covers the slippery pavement... Nothing resembling such a hole as this could exist in England; nor is it possible that an English imagination can conceive a combination of such disgusting dirt, such filthy odours and foul puddles, such as that which fills the vegetable market in the Piazza della Rotonda at Rome." An 1879 Baedeker guidebook noted that the "busy scene" of the piazza "affords the stranger opportunities of observing the characteristics of the peasantry."
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  • In the 19th century this Piazza was apparently Rome's bird market and the English tourists would complain about the cacophony and the hubbub. Well the only change since then is that the noise is now c...  more »
  • This is the piazza that sits in front of the Pantheon so is a very busy square. A delightful fountain in the middle where you can sit and admire the architecture of the Pantheon.  more »
  • This is the square in front of the Pantheon. Always very busy and alive, there are numerous commercial activities. Fit for souvenir photos.
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