The most important entrance to Rome. It was designed by the architect Valadier for Pope Pius VII, in order to give a fist impression of beauty and magnificence to the people coming to Rome from the North; as, before railways were constructed, visitors had to enter the city through this square.
The centre of the square is decorated with four Egyptian lions throwing water into four basins.
Above the fountain rises one of the largest obelisks in the world (118 feet high). It was originally erected (14 centuries B.C.) before the temple of the Sun at Haeliopolis, in Egypt and was brought to Rome by Augustus (23 years B.C.) to decorate the Circus Maximus; here it was found buried and broken, by Pope Sixtus V who had restored and erected here by architect Fontana in 1589.
The two hemicycles of the square are ornamented with two fountains surmounted by groups, one representing Neptune between two Tritons, the other Rome between the rivers Anio and Tiber .
The present gate dates from the period of Pope Pius IV who had it decorated on the outside, after the design of Michelangelo (1561). The internal part of the gate was transformed as it is, by Bernini in 1655, on the coming to Rome of queen Christine of Sweden.
From the square branch out the three most important streets of Papal Rome: the “ Via del Corso” in the centre, with the monument of King Victor Emanuel II at the end, the “ Via del Babuino” on the left, and “Via Ripetta” on the right where we find the large ruins of the tomb of the emperor Augustus. Guide of Rome.