Piazza (Square) San Giovanni in Laterano and Its Fountain

"Piazza (Square) San Giovanni in Laterano and Its Fountain" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 4th July 2011

Previously the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano (Via di S.Giovanni in Laterano) street was named " Strada maggiore o sacra o papalis" because it was used for processions of the popes in direction of Vatican. It was rearranged by Sixtus V in the 16th century and before the 20th century it was bordered only by the building adjoining to the Hospital of S.Giovanni, churches and convents (Chiesa di S.Giacomo de Culiseo, destroyed in 1815; Convents of St Clement and of SS.Quattro Coronati).

Piazza (Square) of San Giovanni in Laterano
The area is named after the two joined buildings on Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano: the San Giovanni Basilica and the Palazzo Laterano (Lateran palace). The Lateran palace was once the residence of the popes in the middle ages. The Lateran Obelisk is Located at Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome. It is the tallest standing ancient obelisk it the world. It's original height was 118 feet, it weighs 455 tons, or 910,000 pounds, and was cut from red granite.

Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano is one of the most important squares of Rome. In the middle of it is the oldest and tallest obelisk of the city (31 m), made of red granite it was standing before the temple of Ammon, in Thebes of Egypt under the dynasty of the pharaohs Tutmes III and Tutmes IV, in the 15th century BC. It was then moved to Rome by Costance II (357) with a boat built for the purpose and placed in the Circus Maximus. It was only with Sixtus V that the obelisk was moved here.

The square is overlooked by the Palazzo del Laterano, built on the spot of the old “Patriarchio”, residence of the popes since Constantine till the Avignon papacy. Opposite the Palazzo Laterano is the building of the Holy Stairs or Sancta Sanctorum, that Sixtus V commissioned to Domenico Fontana to protect the old private chapel of the popes (Sancta Sanctorum).

From the Lateran Basilica you follow the ancient Via Maior (Today: Via di S. Giovanni in Laterano). Visit the basilica of S. Clemente. Pasing by the Coliseum you reach Largo Corrado Ricci and via Tor de' Conti the street that climbs the hill between the wall, separating it from the Augustus Forum to reach the “Palazzo del Marchese del Grillo”.

The Fountain of Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano (Fontana di Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano)

It is situated close to the Lateran obelisk built in the square by Domenico Fontana in 1588 and is fed by the Acqua Felice. It was started under pope Clement the Eighth Aldobrandini (1592-1605), whose coat of arms is present, and built at the expense of the Chapter of the Lateran Basilica. It was continued under Leo the Eleventh Medici (1605), who added two Medicean fleurs-de-lis and a bronze statue of San Giovanni the Evangelist, all lost now. It was lastly completed by Paul the Fifth Borghese (1605-1621) in 1607.
Fountain of Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano (Fontana di Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano) More close view of Fountain of Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano (Fontana di Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano)
The fountain was probably designed by Flaminio Ponzio. It consists of a pond with pod-shaped motifs next to a high base with two large side volutes that frame the facade surmounted by an ovum frame, under which are the stars and the band that can be referred to Clement the Eighth. An eagle is represented in the middle of the facade and two dragons on the sides pouring water from their mouths, that frame a panel with the papal tiara and keys. The eagle and the dragons are the symbols of Paul the Fifth Borghese. Under the panel a shell supported by the intertwined tails of two dauphins pouring water from their mouths down into the pond below. By an ancient tradition on the night of San Giovanni the Roman people used to wet their hands in this fountain, because its waters had the power of driving away witches and evil eye.

From Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano only 5 minutes of walking distance you will experience the magnificent Colosseum, and just a little further Piazza Venezia, the Spanish Steps and majour touristic attractions of Rome, both of historical and artistic interest, and the most famous shopping areas of Rome like Via del Corso.

Piazza (Square) San Giovanni in Laterano and Its Fountain
Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano (Via di S.Giovanni in Laterano)
00184 , Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Esquilino (Termini - Via Nazionale) (Roma centro)
Piazza (Square) San Giovanni in Laterano and Its Fountain is Shown By "Map K Zone" As "69"
Bus: 16 - 85 - 87 - 117 - 186 - 218 - 714 - 650 - 673 - 850

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