Palazzo Barberini Rome

The Barberini Bees

The Palazzo Barberini is home to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica (National Gallery of Ancient Art) and faces the Piazza Barberini in Rome. The entrance to the museum is in the Via delle Quattro Fontane.

Palazzo Barberini Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Palazzo Barberini Rome
Palazzo Barberini

Address: The building has a facade on the Piazza Barberini, but the official address and entrance to the museum is at the Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13 – Rome (tel. +39 064824184 or 064814591). Metro: Barberini (line A). Opening hours: 08.30 to 19.00. Closed: Monday, 1 January, 1 May, 25 December. Admission: 7 Euro. Discount: 3,50 Euro. For special exhibitions there is a surcharge. (Note: This information only applies to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica which is based in the palace. The rest of the building can only be visited on very special occasions.)

History and description

Before Maffeo Barberini (the future Pope Urban VIII) acquired it in 1625 the grounds were owned by the Sforza family. They were used as a vineyard and contained only one, small, building, the Palazzetto Sforza.

Carlo Maderno, assisted by his nephew Borromini, started its construction 1627. After his death, in 1629, Bernini took over. The latter completed work on the palazzo in 1633.

After the death of Urban VIII, Pope Innocent X Pamphili confiscated the building. In 1653 it was returned to the Barberini family.

There are 3 tiers of arched windows. For the top floor windows Borromini created a perspective that suggests more depth than there actually is. The two sets of stairs leading to the piano nobile were created by Bernini (the one on the left) and Borromini (the right one). The helicoidal staircase was also designed by Borromini.

Bernini was responsible for the loggia connecting the two wings of the building. He also designed the oval hall, one of his trademarks.

At the back there are two symmetrical wings extending from the main block, creating a kind of courtyard. The garden at the back was called “secret” because it could not be seen from outside. The monument in the garden is dedicated to Bertel Thorwaldsen.

Several famous artists contributed frescoes to the Palazzo Barberini: Pietro da Cortona did the ceiling of the Salone, while a.o. Giuseppe Passeri and Andrea Camassei were responsible for the piano nobile.

The Barberini Bees - Palazzo Barberini Rome
The Barberini Bee, a family symbol.

Many of the decorations in the building involve, either sculpted or painted, bees. The bee was one of the symbols of the Barberini family. The square named after the family even features a Fountain of the Bees.

On November 4, 1950, the European Court of Human Rights was officially created in the Palazzo Barberini, by signing the European Convention on Human Rights.

A recently found mithraeum in the rear of the building is thought to date from the 2nd century AD.

Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13 – Rome

Trevi district

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