Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful piazzas in perhaps the world. Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers sculpture, dating back to 1650, is a magnificent centerpiece. But the ruins underground area almost as wonderful.
Piazza Navona is built over the ruins of the Stadium of Domitian, which is about 15 feet underneath the piazza. The stadium was built for races, with two long sides and two curved ends. It’s what gives Piazza Navona it’s unique shape.
The stadium was commissioned in 80 AD as a gift to the people of Rome by Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus and completed in 86 AD. It was used for athletic events until a fire in 217 AD. The decline of the city in the later Imperial and post-Imperial eras lead to a decline and neglect of the stadium.
Now, you can see parts of that stadium that have been discovered and restored under Piazza Navona.
When you’re leaving the underground area, go past the bathrooms and you’ll find a soccer/football sports museum. It wasn’t marked and we weren’t sure we were supposed to go in there, but the door was open.
Tickets are required, and you can buy in advance, or in person when it’s not too crowded.