Piazza Venezia, as a square, does not offer many attractions, and one usually passes by or stops there to catch a cab or bus rather than to admire the atmosphere.
In ancient times it had a decidedly different appearance: it was owned by the Venetian Pope Paul II and the square was dominated by Palazzo Venezia, which was precisely the papal residence. The palace was surrounded by a park that extended to where the Victorian is today.
Piazza Venezia: what to see and what to do
Here are what are the points of interest in Piazza Venezia in Rome:
Monument to Victor Emmanuel II
The Victor Emmanuel II monument is known as the “Vittoriano” or “Altar of the Fatherland” and was built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, the first king of unified Italy.
You may love it or loathe it, as indeed most Romans do, but you certainly won’t be able to ignore it: it is that white marble “mountain” of overlooking Piazza Venezia.
It can be seen from all parts of Rome, and its bulk fails to fit in harmoniously with the surrounding buildings.
This building was started in 1885 and opened in 1911.
The Victorian houses a museum of the Risorgimento, and a glass elevator leads to the top of the spectacular view.
Palazzo Venezia was built between 1455 and 1464 for Venetian Cardinal Pietro Barbo, who became Pope Paul II.
It was used as a papal residence and as the seat of the Venetian embassy in Rome.
Since 1916 it has belonged to the Italian state and during Fascism was Mussolini’s headquarters.ì
It was from this very palace that the Duce delivered his most important speeches.
The interior can be seen during a visit to the Palazzo Venezia museum.
Instead, this often underrated museum has stupendous collections of early Renaissance paintings, painted wooden sculptures, and Renaissance chests from all over Italy.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.
Basilica of St. Mark the Evangelist at the Capitol
The Basilica of St. Mark the Evangelist was founded in 386 by Pope Mark in honor of the evangelist.
The Pope’s relics are still preserved under the altar today.
The church by no means has its original appearance was in fact modified several times over the centuries.
In 1455 Pope Paul II Barbo dedicated St. Mark’s Church to the Venetian community in Rome. The coffered ceiling, in which characteristic blue and gold hues dominate, is decorated with the Pope’s coat of arms, the lion rampant, recalling the lion of St. Mark’s in Venice.
In front of the church is a giant bust called “Madame Lucretia” inspired by the Egyptian goddess Isis. It is one of 6 talking statues in Rome.
Curiosity about Piazza Venezia
- The Victorian is also called “wedding cake” and “typewriter” by Romans.
- During excavations to build the Victorian, the entire skeleton of a mastodon, an Ice Age elephant, was found at a depth of 14 meters.
- The equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II on the Victorian is so large that workers dined in it one night in 12.
How to get to Piazza Venezia
Piazza Venezia is located right in the heart of the city center. It is on the route of many bus lines and is also within easy walking distance of most places downtown.
Subway: Line A, Barberini stop
Buses: 40, 62, 63, 64. 110, 170
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