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Piazza della Repubblica Rome

Formerly known as the Piazza Esedra, the Piazza della Repubblica in Rome is a startling thing of beauty among the artistic wealth of the city. It is most famous for the four beautiful representations of nude nymphs in the Fontana delle Naiadi, or Fountain of the Naiads. Another one of the many wonders of the Ancient Roman, the Baths of Diocletian, is also nearby. Following the unification of Italy in 1871, which designated Rome as the new capital, an urban renewal known, as the Grandissimento developed to ensure that Rome was a fitting European capital city, which included the building of a square dedicated to the new republic that was completed in 1901.

Piazza della Repubblica's Origin

The name Esedra or dell Esedra comes from the exedra of Diocletian's baths, which were built nearby, in 302 A.D. and could serve up to 3000 people at a time. The exedra is a curved portico or open room with seats. Dating back to the XVIIth Century, the principal role that the Piazza dell'Esedra fulfilled before becoming Piazza della Repubblica was as the host for the meat market. The market had moved from the "Campo Vaccino" some time earlier. This was the name given to the old Roman Forum that had become covered with earth and debris due to ignorance and misuse. Also, strangely, this Piazza was the site of the "Blessing of the Animals" every 2nd of October, which involved horses and donkeys.

Picture with a closer view of the Nymphs

The New Rome

To make Rome into a true European city and capital, things had to be cleaned up. This project led to the discovery of the splendid ruins of the Roman Forum, which then became officially protected and maintained. The poor use of the Piazza dell'Esedra soon brought it to the attentions of the state officials. They realized that it was a good candidate for something new and grand to make a statement for Rome. At this time, the square was hemmed in by large XIXth colonnades, which is a row of columns at an equal distance from each other, and filled with shops. There was also the Church of Saint Mary of the Angels and Martyrs that had been built in 1566 for pope Pius IV.

As close as I could get safely and as much of the fountain as I could get in one picture

The Vision Required Architects

The new and grand vision required Rome to have a gateway to impress its renewed splendour upon visitors, who would have arrived at the Termini rail station, which is a short walk from here. The principal architects were Alessandro Guerrieri and Gaetano Koch. The former designed a fountain whose source was the Aqua Pia Marcia aqueduct, while the latter did twin palaces that used the foundations of Diocletian’s baths. The piazza opened up to the Via Nazionale toward the Victor Emmanuel monument. The Museo Nazionale Romano, which is arguably the world’s largest repository of Roman antiquities, is also close by to this squares location

Guerrieri’s fountain of lions was always felt to have lacked something, so Martin Rutelli was commissioned to complete it in 1901, and his fame, or notoriety, would be assured by what he did. Each figure lies on top of an aquatic animal representing water in its four principal guises: a sea horse for the oceans, a water snake for rivers, a swan for lakes, and a lizard for subterranean streams. The poses of each figure lead to the impression that they are enjoying where they are and what they are doing.

Stay To Really Enjoy It For A While, But Mind The Traffic!

Do not run away, stay for a moment to see this! If you wait for when the water strikes each nymph, you could see a ring of light that makes each one look naughty and divine at the same time. In 1911, the figure of the sea god Glaucus, fighting with a fish, representing the battle between Man and Nature, was added to the fountain.

It officially became the Piazza della Repubblica following the end of both the Second World War and the Italian monarchy. Instead of shops, you will be surrounded by banks and cafes when you visit here. The Square of the Republic is now where official demonstrations are held as well as the reception point for foreign delegations. The square has very much become one of the epicentres of Rome’s traffic. The island, which contains the fountain, is in the middle of this madness, so be careful when taking pictures that you do not get run over!

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