The Via Giulia is a narrow street in the historic center of Rome. The street meanders more or less parallel to the curves of the river Tiber and the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. It is lined with several stately historic buildings.
Via Giulia Rome
The southern part of the Via Giulia is located in the rione Regola and in the north it belongs to the rione Ponte. It is bordered on the one side by the Ponte Sisto and on the other by the Church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini.
The street was built in the 16th century to create a direct connection between the centre of Rome and the Vatican. This was necessary to make it easy for the thousands of pilgrims to reach St. Peter’s Square.
The Via Giulia was originally projected by, and named after, Pope Julius II. After its construction it very quickly became very fashionable, especially among the 16th century Florentine community in Rome.
Nowadays the Via Giulia is characterized by the presence of a great many antique shops and is considered one of Rome’s more elite shopping streets.
Over the centuries, many famous artists have lived in the street.
Before the Via Giulia existed, pilgrims could only reach the Vatican City through the Via del Pellegrino and the Via dei Banchi Vecchi. Both streets were notorious (just like bus 64 which now transports tourists and pilgrims from Rome Termini to the Vatican) because of the large number of pickpockets who had made it their work area.
When the street was opened, houses were cheap and many artists, including the painter Raphael and the architect Sangallo, went to live in the Via Giulia.
At the time the gardens of the buildings on the west side of the street reached all the way to the Tiber.
Originally, the architect Bramante was meant to design all the buildings in the street, in order to create an architectural whole. Although this plan was abandoned, the Via Giulia soon became one of the most popular streets in the city.
Nowadays it is one of the few (almost) car-free streets in Rome, with mainly art galleries, antique shops and government buildings (including the anti-mafia office).
Tourist Attractions Via Giulia Rome
San Giovanni dei Fiorentini Church
The Church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (near Piazza dell’Oro) is one of the few churches in Rome where people can take their pets inside. There is also a museum attached to it.
San Biagio degli Armeni Church
The San Biagio degli Armeni Church is also called San Biagio della Pagnotta. It is the national church of the Armenian community in the city. its main attraction is a painting by Pietro da Cortona.
The Palazzo Falconieri (Via Giulia, 1) was built in the 16th century, but the current appearance is due to an extension and facelift led by the famous architect Borromini. It is now the seat of the Hungarian Academy.
In 1655 Pope Innocent X had the Carceri Nuove (“New Prison”) built in the Via Giulia (n. 32). As an inscription above the entrance stated, the intention was to create a more humane kind of prison than those that already existed. The building served until the end of the 19th century, after which the prisoners were transferred to the Regina Coeli prison.
The building on n.66 is the Palazzo Sacchetti. It is probably the most impressive palace in the street. The most famous room in this building is the Sala dei Mappamondi, which is named thus because of the enormous globes it contains. Unfortunately it is only rarely open for visitors.
Palazzo Medici Clarelli
The Palazzo Medici Clarelli (n. 79) was designed by the famous architect Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane. At present it is the seat of Rome’s Municipio I (basically comprising the most central neighborhoods). The coat of arms of the Medici is still visible above the entrance.
More Villa Giulia Attractions
- The Palazzo Ricci (Via Giulia, 146)
- The Palazzo Cisterna (Via Giulia, 163) was once owned by the sculptor Guglielmo della Porta and is now partly used for exhibitions.
- The Church of Santa Caterina da Siena (near Via dell’Armata).
- Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte (Via Giulia, 261)
- Fontana del Mascherone (on Via del Mascherone): 17th century fountain built by Girolamo Rainaldi.