Rome is a wonderful city, with magnificent artwork and many genuine masterpieces. It is a real open-air museum, very beautiful and impressive.
I already published a post “Where to see Caravaggio’s masterpieces in Rome” and if you missed it you can read the post here.
Today I would like to introduce the impressive works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a remarkable Italian sculptor, painter and architect.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was a grandest Italian sculptor and an outstanding architect of the 17th century. His father Pietro Bernini was Italy’s great sculptor as well and Gian Lorenzo learned a lot from him. Gian Lorenzo Bernini created his first sculpture between the age of 11 – 17. It was marble sculpture The Goat Amalthea with the Infant Jupiter and a Faun for Cardinal Scipione Borghese for the garden of the Villa Borghese.
Over his long career, Bernini created many decorative art pieces like lamps, vases, mirrors, carriages as well as painted portraits and sculptures. As a famous architect, he designed churches, chapels, buildings, public fountains and tombstones.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini was incredibly talented, the most beloved and remarkable artist. For almost his entire life he lived and worked in Rome and had a strong connection to the city. Bernini will always be admired and recognized. You can discover lots of his genuine masterpieces in the Rome.
Here is a guide where you can see the most important masterpieces of Gian Lorenzo Bernini in Rome:
Bernini’s artwork in Rome
Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5, € 15
Please check the operating hours, click here.
The Galleria Borghese is one of the popular attractions in Rome and a house of art, where you can admire some of the greatest masterpieces in the world.
It features displays of the impressive collection of masterpieces by world-famous Renaissance, Roman and Baroque artists, such as Caravaggio, Titian, Canova, and Raphael.
The Galleria Borghese contains a big collection of baroque sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, starting with his early works like the Goat Amalthea with Infant Jupiter and Faun and Aeneas, Anchises & Ascanius to his powerful Rape of Proserpine, Apollo and Daphne, and David. In addition, Self-Portrait as a Young Man oil painting on canvas, marble Bust of Pope Paul V and Two Busts of Cardinal Scipione Borghese are included in the gallery.
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City
Entrance is free. Visit he Dome of St Peter Basilica, 7-10€.
Saint Peter’s Basilica is the biggest church in the world built in the Renaissance style and is located in Vatican City. The interior of Saint Peter’s Basilica is lavishly adorned with marble, reliefs, sculptures and gilding.
Several generations of grand masters worked on its creation: Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini.
The central and most significant feature of the Basilica is a baldachin, or bronze canopy, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini located under the magnificent dome and above Saint Peter’s tomb.
In addition, the Basilica contains magnificent Bernini’s work like a sculpture of St. Longinus, bronze Altar Cross, Chair of Saint Peter, Balconies in the Pillars of the Dome, Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and Decoration of Chapels and Nave of St. Peter’s Basilica. There are also the tombs of Pope Alexander VII, Pope Urban VIII and Countess Matilda of Tuscany made by Bernini.
**Tips for travelers:
Vatican Dress code: Please be respectful and wear appropriate clothes when visit the Vatican City or any other churches in Italy. Women and men need to cover their knees and shoulders and arms. No shorts, short skirts or open shoulder tops. I brought to Rome light shawl that was always in my purse and wore it when I went inside the church.
Entrance to the Dome: I highly recommend you to go on the Dome of St Peter Basilica to see the beauty of Vatican City. The entrance located inside the Basilica and you need to buy tickets right there. Click here to find out more information.
Audio guides: Audio guides available for rent at the an information desk inside the St Peter Basilica. I recommend you to use Rick Steves’ Italy Audio Tours. It is free. You have to download an app on your phone, than download St. Peter’s Basilica Tours at home over Wi-Fi and listen it at the Basilica. The tour is amazing. It will not use your data. Just have a power bank to recharge your phone battery and don’t forget to take ear buds. Check Rick Steves’ Italy Audio Tours.
St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
St Peter’s Square is a large plaza located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. The square is framed by semicircular colonnades designed by Bernini, which, in outstanding combination with the cathedral, naturally forms the symbolic shape of the “Key of St. Peter.”
Santa Maria del Popolo
Entrance is free.
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is a church and a minor basilica in Rome and located on the Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous squares in the city. The church contains works by several influential artists, like Raphael, Caravaggio, Alessandro Algardi, Pinturicchio and Donato Bramante. The facade of the basilica was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
In addition, Bernini created sculptures Daniel and the Lion and Habakkuk and the Angel. Sculptures stand in a two separate niche in the Chigi Chapel, but form a big composition as a group.
Santa Maria della Vittoria
Entrance is free.
Santa Maria della Vittoria is a small church, but absolutely fascinating. The church is recognized for the genuine masterpiece of Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, which is considered a notable triumph of Baroque art.
Santa Maria sopra Minerva and Piazza della Minerva
Entrance is free.
Santa Maria sopra Minerva is one of the major Catholic churches in Rome. The church is located on Piazza della Minerva one block behind the Pantheon. Notable Bernini’s work: Marble Bust of Giovanni Vigevano inserted into the tomb for Vigevano after he died in 1630 and a sculptural monument to Maria Raggi attached to a pillar in the nave of the church.
The Elephant and Obelisk are lovely statue of elephant carrying the red granite obelisk. The obelisk was found in 1665 during excavations near the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Bernini designed base for the obelisk and add marble elephant, which was probably carved by his assistant Ercole Ferrata. As a group with a pedestal and the elephant, the statue rises 12.69 meters tall.
Piazzas with a fountain by Bernini
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers)
Bernini’s most famous fountain is the Fountain of the Four Rivers, located in Piazza Navona. It was designed in 1651 for Pope Innocent X. Bernini came up with the idea to put the Egyptian obelisk on an artificial grotto from which four rivers flow. In the grotto, Bernini placed the figure of a lion (sign of sun) and a hippopotamus (sign of water). The obelisk is crowned with the a dove Pamphilj with an olive branch which is a heraldic symbol of Pope Innocent X. The four male sculptures of the fountain depict the incredible images of four rivers and representations of the four continents: The Nile is representing Africa, the Danube is representing Europe, the Ganges – Asia and the Río de la Plata – the Americas.
The figures of the four rivers, according to Bernini’s drawings, were created by Bernini’s students.
Fontana del Moro
Fontana del Moro located at the Piazza Navona. The fountain was originally designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1575 depicting the dolphin and four Tritons. In 1653 Gian Lorenzo Bernini added the outstanding statue of the Moor. In 1874, during a restoration of the fountain, the original statues were relocated to the Galleria Borghese and replaced with copies.
Fontana della Barcaccia
The Fontana della Barcaccia located at the foot of the Spanish Steps on Piazza di Spagna. The fountain was built between 1627 – 1629 by Pietro Bernini with the help of his son Gian Lorenzo Bernini commissioned by Pope Urban VIII. The fountain looks like a half-sunken ship shape with water overflowing over sides into a small basin and was created in memory of the flood that happened in 1598.
Fontana del Tritone
Fontana del Tritone located in Piazza Barberini. The fountain was designed and built in 1642 by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Urban VIII (Barberini) shortly after the completion of his palace. The fountain’s pedestal is composed of four dolphins with a huge shell on the tips of their tails. On the open shell is an impressive statue of Triton, a Greek god of the sea, the son of Poseidon. Triton blows a flowing stream of water from the shell, which fills the fountain bowl. Also, the fountain is decorated with two papal emblems, located Between the dolphins: a papal tiara and bees — the heraldic symbol of the influential Italian Barberini family.
On the same square there is another work of Bernini – the Bee Fountain (Fontana delle Api).
Fontana delle Api
Fontana delle Api located in Piazza Barberini. The fountain was completed by Bernini in 1644 by order of Pope Urban VIII. The fountain was meant for horses to quench their thirst. The fountain depicts an open shell with three bees descending into the water. The three bees are the symbol of the Barberini family.
Bernini died at age 81, after having served eight popes and he was undoubtedly the most outstanding artist of Europe.