The 'Twin' Churches
Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, the two Baroque churches which stand on the south side of Piazza del Popolo, are often referred to as the chiese gemelle (twin churches).
At first sight the two churches may look identical, but there are subtle differences, most notably in the design of the bell towers, and also that of the domes. Santa Maria in Montesanto has a dodecagonal dome, while that of Santa Maria dei Miracoli is octagonal.
The two churches were commissioned by Pope Alexander VII (r. 1655-67) to create a grand entrance to the Via del Corso, the main road leading into the centre of the city. The churches were to be centrally planned and the project was given to the Roman architect Carlo Rainaldi (1611-91).
Both churches were largely financed by Cardinal Girolamo Gastaldi, whose name is prominently displayed on the facades.
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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 walking tours of Rome.
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