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Page revised in August 2010.
Palazzo Borghese (Book 4) (Map C2) (Day 4) (View C5) (Rione Campo Marzio)
Palazzo Borghese was built in a relatively short period of time (1560-1614),
but it is the result of a series of additions, rather than the completion of a comprehensive initial project;
in this etching Giuseppe Vasi tried to show all three sections of the palace: a) the regular XVIth century southern fašade (far right);
b) the angled and very long western fašade; c) the terrace facing Porto
di Ripetta; Palazzo Borghese was called il Cembalo (harpsichord) in an attempt to explain its unusual shape.
The exterior of Palazzo Borghese is unchanged from the time of the etching exception made for the loss of the coat of arms of Pope Paul V, which Filippo Juvarra sketched in his book on the finest papal coats of arms. The stables and the coach house have been replaced by a modern building; today the square houses stalls selling old books and prints. The Borghese still live in a section of their family palace.
The construction of Palazzo Borghese was started by Monsignor Tommaso Del Giglio and it was continued by Cardinal Pedro de Deza:
at the cardinal's death in 1600 the fašade along Via Condotti was completed; many art historians attribute the design of this section to
Martino Longhi. In 1604 Cardinal Camillo Borghese bought the building, which he bequeathed to members of his family after he was elected
Pope Paul V in May 1605.
The Borghese and in particular Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of the pope, were avid collectors of antiquities and paintings which they used for the
decoration of their town palace and their suburban Villa; today the paintings which were housed in Palazzo Borghese
constitute the bulk of of those shown at Galleria Borghese.
The palace included a small garden which was redesigned by Johann Paul Schor and Carlo Rainaldi in 1671-77; its fountains were decorated with statues by Leonardo Retti, Filippo Carcani and Francesco Cavallini, all scholars of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Cardinal Scipione Borghese had a personal court of more than 200 people; because he shared Palazzo Borghese with other members of the family, he built a completely independent palace for his assistants and servants; during his lifetime it was called Palazzo della famiglia del Cardinale; the design of the building is rather simple, but not without grace.
Eagles and dragons are the heraldic symbols of the Borghese; those shown above are just some of the many ones which decorate the Borghese properties.
Today the area behind Palazzo Borghese is void of interest because of the many changes made when
Via Tomacelli was opened; this street begins at Ponte Cavour and it ends in front of
SS. TrinitÓ degli Spagnoli. The new street has reduced the size of Piazza di Monte d'Oro, a square shown in Vasi's 1781 Map of Rome (section B2), which was named after an existing inn; the street between the palace and the square is called Via dell'Arancio, a reference to the orange trees on the terrace of Palazzo Borghese; one of the buildings of the square housed an institution for the pilgrims from LiŔge, the main town of the French-speaking part of Belgium.
Next plate in Book 4: Palazzo Madama
Next step in Day 4 itinerary: Collegio Clementino
Next step in your tour of Rione Campo Marzio: Collegio Clementino