Piazza Barberini and the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini

We cross the street and move north through the Via delle Quo, and then take a right turn to find ourselves at the Palazzo Barberini.

Palazzo Barberini and a view from the window entrance
Palazzo Barberini Rome

pictures: Daniel Spronk and UncaMikey

Unfortunately, we lack the time to go inside. Nowadays, the palace has a museum with a wonderful collection of paintings including a famous one by Caravaggio, titled: ‘Judith and Holofernes’ and a famous ceiling painting by Pietro da Cortona.

Caravaggio ‘Judith and Holofernes’ c. 1600 large size
Pietro da Cortona ‘Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power’ large size
Pietro da Cortona Palazzo Barberini

At standing in front of the large wall, you will immediately notice a remarkable window frame. Borromini made this when he worked for some time under Bernini. Having this kind of aedicula around a window, is in direct violation of pretty much any decent and conventional architecture standards as held by Vitruvius but also contemporaries of Borromini. I am left wondering if you are able to explain why this aedicula by Borromini is so wrong according to Vitruvius and Giovanni Pietro Bellori. In addition, Borromini also designed a staircase for the Palazzo Barberini.

Borromini window of Palazzo Barberini
window of Palazzo Barberini Borromini


Palazzo Barberini and  Borromini staircase

picturess: Khrawlings and Borromini staircase: Nespyxd/Stefano

We continue north where we can already see the Piazza Barberini, close to the Palazzo Barberni.

Piazza Barberini  fountain Bernini livecam Piazza Barberini
Piazza Barberini fontain of Triton Bernini

picture: Oleg Anisimov

The Triton fountain is found at the centre of the Piazza Barberini. The Barberini family commissioned Bernini to construct it. Bernini places Triton on a large clam that’s carried by four dolphins. In his hands, Triton holds a conch in the air with water flowing out. In Ovid’s book Metamorphoses, he describes how Jupiter ordered to have mankind punished with a flood. Neptune subsequently caused one. Triton is told by his father Neptune to blow the conch to maintain the memory of the flood. Bernini remains truthful to the description by Ovid who remarked that Triton lifts his hands with the shell:

[…] that coils from its base in broad spirals,
that shell that filled with his breath in mid-ocean
makes the eastern and the western shores sound.
So now when it touched the god’s mouth,
and dripping beard, and sounded out the order for retreat,
it was heard by all the waters on earth and in the ocean,
and all the waters hearing it were checked.
Now the sea has shorelines, the brimming rivers
keep to their channels, the floods subside, and hills appear.
Earth rises, the soil increasing as the water ebbs,
and finally the trees show their naked tops,
the slime still clinging to their leaves.
Thus the world had returned […]

From: Ovidius, ‘Metamorphoses’

Bernini Triton fountain  and preliminary study of the Triton  1642
Bernini Triton fountain 1642

We now walk to the Via Veneto where we will look at a smaller fountain, the fountain with the Bees by Bernini.

Bee fountain and the three bees
Bee fountain Bernini

pictures:  chunkygentleman’s and ex.novo

Afterwards we head towards the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini.

Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini Rome

Francois Marius Granet Capuchins of the Santa Maria della Concezione 1818 Musee de Grenoble
Francois Marius Granet 1818 Capuchins of the Santa Maria della Concezione 1818 Musee de Grenoble

We descend to the crypt of this church and end up at some kind of freak show. For centuries, the capuchins preserved the bones of over four thousand of their monks. Wherever you look you will see bones, skulls and other monk remnants.

Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini
Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini tombs

Some of the skeletons even still wear the order’s brown robes. The parts of the skeletons are arranged in such a way that they form into a few Christian symbols.

Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini Death with the scythe and scales
Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini  death with the scythe and scales

The cardinal’s tomb is inscribed with: ‘We were what you are. You will be what we are.” At leaving the crypt, the monk shaking his tin is a friendly reminder for us to leave behind a few coins. I do recommend our tribute to be more modest than what we paid the nuns for the institute for the mute children at the Santi Quattro Coronati that we examined in the first programme.

Cardinal’s grave
cardinal's gravel Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini

picture: AmatarFoto

We continue north through the Via Porta Pinciano to arrive at the old Rome city walls. After the city gates, we can see across the road a park that is named after the famous villa: the Villa Borghese.

The park Borghese
The park Borghese Rome

picture: Thomarob

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