Santa Maria del Popolo
is a notable Augustinian
church located in Rome. It stands to the north side of the Piazza del Popolo
, one of the most famous squares of the city, between the ancient Porta Flaminia
(one of the gates of the Aurelian Walls
and the starting point of the Via Flaminia
, the road to Ariminum (modern Rimini) and the most important route to the north of Ancient Rome) and the Pincio park.
In 1099 a chapel was built by Pope Paschal II
to Our Lady over Roman tombs of the the Domitii family. Tradition claims that Emperor Nero
was buried on the slope of the Pincian hill by the piazza. Pope Paschal II had his remains disinterred and thrown into the Tiber at the request of those who lived in the area. The chapel was built were the grave had been.
Since the people of Rome funded the building, the chapel received the name del Popolo ("of the people"). Other sources state that the "popolo" nickname stems from the Latin word populus, meaning "poplar" and probably referring to a tree located nearby. The chapel became a church by will of Pope Gregory IX
(1227-1241), and given to the Augustinians in the first half of 13th century, who held it until now.
Santa Maria del Popolo was reconstructed by Baccio Pontelli
and Andrea Bregno
in 1472-1477, commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV
in association with the Lombards
of Rome, making this one of the first examples of Italian Renaissance
In 1655-60 alterations to the fašade and the interior were made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
, who was asked by Pope Alexander VII to update the Renaissance church to a more modern Baroque style
. After Bernini's intervention, the church became a favourite site of burials of rich people of the city. Among the others, the banker Agostino Chigi
and the Cardinal Savo Millini
have their tombs here.