Palazzo Barberini - National Gallery of Ancient Art

"Palazzo Barberini - National Gallery of Ancient Art" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Friday 3rd June 2011

Palazzo Barberini ceiling, rome

This is an ancient "Casa grande dei Barberini", the first palace of the noble family. Maffeo Barberini, the future pope Urban VIII, who lived here in 1600-1623, had this palace enlarged by F.Ponzio. Seccessively the Barberini, even though occupied in construction of the new one, improved conditions of their old palace as well. In 1734 it passed to a religious order of Carmelites and in 1760 to the Institute of Monte di Pieta'. At present it belongs to the Commune of Rome.

Palazzo Barberini was built on the territory of vine-yard Vigna Sforza, which was created in 1549 by cardinal Pio da Carpi, and ancient classic construction. Pope Urban VIII Barberini built this palace in proximity of his residence on Quirinal Hill, to have his family closer, which before lived in a palace at Via dei Giubbonari (Campo dei Fiori). The construction was began in 1625 by C.Maderno, followed by Borromini (windows of the top storey, the helicoidal staircase, and some doorways), and finally G.L.Bernini, who finished works in 1633.

historic Palazzo Barberini building at Piazza Barberini
On the back of the palace was discovered an ancient temple dedicated to divinity of Mithra, and named Mitreo Barberini. It is in form of a little hall with the paintings representing the history of myth.

In the garden was a colossal pine-tree, which was celebrated as one of the botanical wonders of Rome in the 19th century (unfortunately it doesn't exist anymore). The garden flanks one side of the Via delle 4 Fontane where a beautiful composition of the huge stone pilasters and iron grille was added in the 19th century by F.Azzurri.

The greatest part of a big art collection of the Barberini formerly located in their palace was lost in the 19th century; their library was saved due to Leo XIII, who purchased it for the Vatican Library.

In 1627-1683 a part of the Palazzo Barberini was occupied by a Tapestry work-shop of the Barberini, which introduced in Rome production of this kind of decoration for the palaces and churches. The initiative was by cardinal Francesco Barberini, who brought from Paris some splendid Gobelins and decided to organize at the Papal Court this prestigious production. His tapestry with the help of Flemish masters and Italian designers (P.da Cortona) obtained very good results and high quality. But with the death of cardinal his tapestry was closed. The works produced here are spread all over the world now, such as the tapestries with the "Stories of Christ" decorate now the Cathedral of New York.

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini)

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini) was created in 1895 on the base of two important collections of paintings acquired by the Italian State in 1883 (Collection Corsini) and in 1892 (Collection Torlonia). Later were adjoined the parts of collections of such noble families as Sciarra, Chigi and Barberini.

Palazzo Barberini was designed by Maderno and built on the site of the previous Villa Sforza, for Matteo Barberini, who became pope with the title of Urban VIII. On Maderno’s death in 1629, Gian Lorenzo Bernini took control of construction. The main façade, which is framed by two wings, in the style of a roman country villa, is the work of Bernini. By superimposing three tiers of attached columns and shallow pilasters to frame two floors of huge windows over an open porch at ground level, he created a sense of dignity and solemnity appropriate to the Barberini family. One of Bernini’s collaborators was Francesco Borromini. Borromini has left his mark in the two small curiously pedimented upper windows in the intermediate sections linking the wings to the central block of the building.

The entire collection of the Gallery includes the works from the 14th to the 18th centuries, by Italian and foreign artists. After the Palazzo Barberini became a property of the State in 1949, one wing was adapted for the Gallery (its second part is in Palazzo Corsini). Here are few names of the personalities, who's works are exhibited in Palazzo Barberini: P.da Cortona (a huge magnificent ceiling fresco "The triumph of divine providence" and other works), F.Lippi, Perugino, A.Romano, Titian, L.Lotto, Sodoma, Raphael (La Fornarina), G.Romano, G.Reni, Guercino, G.Lanfranco, G.L.Bernini, Sassoferrato, Baciccia, A.Sacchi, M.Venusti, J.Zucchi, F.Zuccari, P.Brill, Caravaggio, O.Gentileschi, G.Baglione, C.Saraceni, L.Giordano, S.Rosa, S.Conca, C.Maratta, P.Subleyras, A.Pozzo, G.B.Tiepolo, G.P.Pannini.

There is also a Dusmet Collection separated from the basic exhibition and disposed in five rooms. It was left to the State in 1949 and includes: 16th century majolica from Asia Minor, 17th-18th century Chinese porcelain; 16th century Flemish tapestries; 14th century Sienese school diptych; terracotta works; paintings by Guercino and A.Carracci; and etc.
National Gallery of Ancient Art of Barberini Palace (Palazzo Barberini) at Piazza Barberini
Other rooms belong to the seat of Istituto Italiano di Numismatica, and contain the exceptionally valuable Numismatic Collection presented by the king Victor Emmanuel III to the people of Italy before his exile. It includes more than 100,000 pieces from the epoch of Roman Empire (3rd-5th centuries) to the Kingdom of Italy (19th-20th centuries).

The windows in the rear façade were decorated by Borromini who also designed the the curving staircase on the right, corresponding to the rectangular main staircase on the opposite side, which was designed by Bernini. The latter is also responsible for the central hall, two floors high, and the adjacent oval room with its harmonious classical proportions, which takes up a typical theme of Bernini, the elliptical plan. The great hall was decorated by Pietro da Cortona, who worked on it from 1633 to 1639: the allegorical theme, derived from the poet Francesco Bracciolini, centres on the “Triumph of Providence” and was intended to exalt the glory of the papal family. With the unity of Italy the area surrounding Palazzo Barberini was involved in jerry-building and in the changes of the new capital, Rome. The square was the centre of an important crossroads: via Veneto that connected the new district built after the demolition of villa Ludovisi; the enlarged and renewed via del Tritone; the new via Barberini terminated in 1932 that completed the excavation of the old entrance to the palace, whose monumental door had already been removed with the construction of the old Hotel Bristol (Albergo Bernini-Bristol).

Barberini Apartments (18th century) with splendid Rococo decorations, furniture, porcelain, costumes and etc.

Palazzo Barberini/ National Gallery of Ancient Art of Barberini Palace (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini)
Piazza Barberini
Fontana del Tritone (Triton Fountain) and Fontana delle Api [The fountain of the Api (Bees)] are also located at Piazza Barberini.
Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13 (Via Barberini, 16)
00187, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Ludovisi (Via Veneto) /Rione Trevi (Quirinale-Tritone-Barberini) (Roma centro)
Palazzo Barberini/ National Gallery of Ancient Art of Barberini Palace is Shown By "Map E Zone" As "74" and also at "Map H Zone" As "20"
Contact Palazzo Barberini
Gallery hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. Closed: Monday, December 25th, January 1st, Ticket office closed 1 hour before Gallery’s closing.
Public Transport
Bus n°: 52, 53, 56, 58, 58/, 60, 61, 95, 116, 175, 492, 590
Underground Line A: Barberini stop
Tickets Price: € 5,00, € 2,50 (European Union citizen), Under 18 and over 65 years old are Free.
Information, tickets booking and reservations: tel. +39 06 32810, Website:
Groups booking: fax +39 06 32651329
Guided tours: fax +39 06 8555952
Museum shop: Tel. +39 06 42010066
Official Website For National Gallery of Ancient Art of Barberini Palace (Palazzo Barberini):

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