Piazza della Minerva - Obelisco Minerveo (Obelisk Minerva), Rome

"Piazza della Minerva - Obelisco Minerveo (Obelisk Minerva), Rome" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Friday 29th April 2011

Piazza della Minerva - Obelisco Minerveo (Obelisk Minerva), Rome

It took the name from the church located here S.Maria sopra Minerva. In the middle is a funny monument compound of a little marble elephant supporting 6m high Egyptian obelisk (pictured above) which belonged to the Temple of Isis, that formerly stood nearby. It was designed by G.L.Bernini and executed by E.Ferrata in 1667.

The little Obelisco Minerveo (Obelisk Minerva) of red granite, 5.47 metres tall, was constructed in the 6th century BC by the Pharaoh Apries, and was rediscovered in the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Immediately after the discovery, Pope Alexander VII Chigi decided to erect it in the square in front of the church, and entrusted the design of the monument to Bernini, who thought up the elephant as a base. For the creation of the monument, Bernini allegedly drew inspiration from a novel published in the late 1500s by Francesco Colonna, mindful of the symbolism of Egyptian hieroglyphics. In fact, the stele should represent the divine wisdom that descends from the strong mind depicted by the elephant, as is also stated in the inscription on the base, with the warning from Alexander VII: "a strong mind is necessary to support solid wisdom". The monument is known as the "Pulcino della Minerva" (Minerva's Chick), which derives form the 18th century name of "Porcin della Minerva" (Minerva's Piglet), which stressed the elephant's resemblance to a piglet.

The square is formed of the church, its ex-convent, Ecclesiastic Academy, and a Hotel Minerva.

The ex-convent of Dominicans was built in the 16th century by wish of Vincenzo Giustiniani, president of the Order, and enlarged in 1656. Here Sant'Uffizio seats took place weekly and a tribunal was held in Sala Galileiana (named after G.Galilei's trail). After 1870 the palace of convent passed to Italian State and became a seat of a Ministry of Education. The cloister inside of it is still a property of Dominicans. The part of the ex-convent on Via di S.Ignazio is a seat of Biblioteca Casanatense. It was left to Dominican order in 1698 by cardinal Girolamo Casanate, together with the funds to build a special construction adjoining the convent and serving the needs of library, which was open in 1701.
Accademia Pontificia Ecclesiastica
In 1870 it passed to the Italian State together with the convent. Inside is a reading hall attributed to C.Fontana, which is the largest reading hall in Italy. The library is specialized in theology, classic philosophy and history of Rome, it includes 350,000 volumes, 100,000 booklets, 2000 incunabula, a big collection of prints and etchings from the 16th until 19th centuries.

Accademia Pontificia Ecclesiastica (pictured above)

takes its origins from the ecclesiastic Colleges for studies, that gave the special religious education to all the classes of society.

The academy was built in 1701 by wish of Clement XI with the name Accademia dei nobili ecclesiastici, i.e. Academy of noble clergymen, destined to form from the aristocratic youth the future representatives of the Church and members of Ecclesiastic government. In the beginning of the 20th century the Academy was reformed and began the education of young priests destined for missionary and diplomatic work all over the world, without distinction of social position, nationality and race.

The palace of the Academy was built in the beginning of the 16th century by a Roman conservator Mario Peruschi and a century later passed to the Severoli, from who took the name. In the beginning of the 18th century it was acquired by pope for his Academy and in the end of the 19th century it was completely reconstructed and given its present aspect.

Albergo Minerva (pictured below)

, one of the most important hotels in papal Rome, which hosted a series of celebrated personalities, is located in 19th century Palazzo Fonseca.
Albergo Minerva

Piazza della Minerva - Obelisco Minerveo (Obelisk Minerva)
Piazza della Minerva
00186, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Pigna (Torre Argentina) (Roma centro)
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