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Piazza Navona is a city square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in first century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans came there to watch the ''agones'' ("games"), and hence it was known as 'Circus Agonalis' (competition arena). It is believed that over time the name changed to 'in agone' to 'navone' and eventually to 'navona'.
Defined as a public space in the last years of 15th century, when the city market was transferred to it from the Campidoglio, the Piazza Navona is now the pride of Baroque Roman architectural and art history. It features sculptural and architectural creations: in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini; the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini and Girolamo Rainaldi; and the Pamphilj palace also by Rainaldi and which features the gallery frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.
The Piazza Navona has two additional fountains: at the southern end is ''La Fontana del Moro'' with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which in 1673 Bernini added a statue of a Moor, or African, by Bernini, wrestling with a dolphin, at the northern is the ''Fountain of Neptune, Rome'' (1574) created by Giacomo della Porta. The statue of Neptune in the northern fountain, the work of Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to make that fountain more symmetrical with La Fontana del Moro in the south.
At the southwest end of the piazza is the ancient 'speaking' staute of Pasquino. Erected in 1501, Romans could leave lampoons or derogatory social commentary attached to the statue.
During its history, the piazza has hosted theatrical events and other ephemeral activities. From 1652 until 1866, when the festival was suppressed, it was flooded on every Saturday and Sunday in August in elaborate celebrations of the Pamphilj family. The pavement level was raised in the 19th century and the market was moved again in 1869 to the nearby Campo de' Fiori. A Christmas market is held in the piazza.
Other monuments on the Piazza Navona are:
* Stabilimenti Spagnoli
* Palazzo de Cupis
* Palazzo Torres Massimo Lancellotti
* Church of Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore
* Palazzo Braschi (Museo di Roma)
Literature and films
*The piazza is featured in Dan Brown's 2000 thriller ''Angels and Demons'', in which the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is listed as one of the Altars of Science. During June 2008, Ron Howard directed several scenes of the ''film adaptation'' of ''Angels and Demons'' on the southern section of the Piazza Navona, featuring Tom Hanks.
*The piazza is featured in several scenes of director Mike Nichols' 1970 adaptation of Joseph Heller's novel, ''Catch-22''.
*The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi was used in the 1990 film ''Coins in the Fountain''. The characters threw coins into the fountain as they made wishes. The Trevi Fountain was used in the 1954 version of the film.