The monumental Porta del Popolo (once known as the Porta Flaminia), which stands on the site of an ancient Roman gate, was originally built by Pope Sixtus IV (r. 1471-84) for the Jubilee Year of 1475.
At the behest of Pope Pius IV (r. 1559-65), the gate was rebuilt by the Florentine architect Nanni di Baccio Bigio (1512-68), apparently to a design by Michelangelo. The inscription proclaims: PIVS IIII PONT MAX/PORTAM IN HANC AMPLI/TVDINEM EXTVLIT/VIAM FLAMINIAM/STRAVIT ANNO III (Pius IV, Pontifex Maximus, elevated the gate to its present grandeur, and paved the Via Flaminia, in his third year).
In 1638 the two statues of St Peter and St Paul, the work of Francesco Mochi, were added to the Porta del Popolo.
The inner face of the gate was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Alexander VII (r. 1655-67) in honour of the arrival of Queen Christina of Sweden, who made her official entry (December, 1655) dressed as an Amazon! The inside of the gate bears the inscription: FELICI FAVSTOQ INGRESSVI/ANNO DOM MDCLV (To a happy and auspicious entrance, the year of our Lord 1655).
In 1887 the two lateral archways were opened after the demolition (1879) of the projecting towers flanking the gate.
Blogging about Rome,
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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