Palazzo Barberini


The Palazzo Barberini is a 17th-century palace facing Berberini square in rome. Barberini Palace is one of the most stunning examples of baroque residential architecture in Rome and one of the city’s best museums. It houses the Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica, the main national collection of older paintings in Rome.

The palace takes its name from the Barberini family who resided here since the XVI century and it is an architectural gem. Palazzo Barberini entered the possessions of the Barberini family in the 17th century. In 1627, Pope Urban VIII Barberini bought the palace from the Sforza Family and commissioned remodeling and redesign work to Three great architects. Each contributing his own style and character to the building. Carlo Maderno redesigned it, including nearby pre existing buildings, and created a large palace with two wings embracing a large garden. Maderno began in 1627, assisted by his nephew Francesco Borromini. When Maderno died in 1629, Borromini was passed over and the commission was awarded to Bernini a young prodigy then better known as a sculptor. Borromini stayed on regardless and the two architects worked together Works were completed by Bernini in 1633. Bernini added several essential interventions such as an elegant entrance we still see, and an impressive staircase leading to the entrance hall. Borromini also participated in the palace’s design, with the creation of a stunning helicoidal staircase. The staircase serves the south wing of the palace, which now hosts the national numismatic institute (close to the public) and seems to complement Bernini’s staircase on the opposite side of the palace to create symmetry. The staircase led to Cardinal Francesco Barberini’s rooms and was therefore intended for private use. Berninis’ staircase is in the northern wing of the palace and was meant to connect the main entrance with preexisting structures leading to the garden level and the first floor. The staircase has a square plan and is regarded as a beautiful architectural accomplishment considering it had to develop within the constraints of a preexisting structure.

After the death of Urban VIII, the palace was confiscated by the Pamphili Pope Innocent X and was only returned to the Barberini in 1653. The palace counts 187 rooms and covers 12000 m2. Striking here is the family crest of the Barberinis; the bee. You will find these bees in many places, such as in the ceilings and statues.

Palazzo Barberini houses the Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica, one of the most important painting collections in Italy. The permanent collection includes pieces from the primary Italian schools of painting from the 1200s to the 1700s, with most works from the 1500 and 1600 centuries. The most famous masterpieces in the gallery include Raphael, Piero di Cosimo, Bronzino, Hans Holbein, Lorenzo Lotto, Tintoretto, Caravaggio. Later works include Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Guido Reni, Guercino, Nicolas Poussin, Pietro da Cortona and Canaletto, among others.

The Barberini Mithraeum

In the early 1930s renovation work discovered an ancient Mithraeum under Palazzina Savorgnan di Brazzà(Palazzina Savorgnan di Brazzà building) in the back of the Barberini’s property.  The Mithraeum recently opened to the public and it is a must-see for ancient history lovers.

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