Sant’Ignazio and the Piazza

Houses on the Piazza di Sant’Ignazio

Houses Piazza di Sant'Ignazio Rome
photos: Myrabella

We take the Via della Mercede and walk toward the west and arrive at the centre street of the trident: the de Via del Corso. Here we cross the street and follow the sign that says Pantheon to get to the Piazza di Sant’Ignazio, which was designed by Filippo Raguzzini between 1717 and 1728 (map of the surrounding). This Piazza was not designed to be looked at both up close and from a distance like the Spanish Steps.

Piazza di Sant’Ignazio       Rear side

Piazza di Sant'Ignazio Rome
photo: Giovanni Sestini

The square in front of the church of St Ignatius is quite small, as a result, the church can only be looked at from nearby. Walking around in the plaza does not add new impressions the way a walk round St Peter’s square or the Cordonata would. We will later compare this square with the Piazza in front of the Santa Maria della Pace, where the architect, Raguzzini, created an inversion of the projecting convex church of Santa Maria della Pace. The residential building in the middle has a concave rather than a convex shape. There are, however, clear similarities between the Spanish Steps and this square. In both situations curved lines moving inward and outward again play a dominant role.

We now enter one of the most important churches of the Jesuit order

Sant’Ignazio      Lieven Cruyl ‘The Church of Sant’Ignazio’ 1665  
Cleveland Museum

Sant'Ignazio facade Rome
photo: Hans


Sant'Ignazio nave Rome
photos: Max_Ryazanov and Slices of Light

llustration  cupolo in Andrea Pozzo, Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum 1693

Sant'Ignazio koepel Rome
photo: Jean-Christophe BENOIST

Andrea Pozzo ‘Self-portrait’
Andrea Pozzo ‘Self-portrait’ 1703, Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf

This church was designed by two monks, the architect Orazio Grassi and the painter Andrea Pozzo. Click here for a diagram of the frescos on the ceiling. When we are in the nave, we will walk exactly down the middle and halt at a marker, a porphyry disc in the marble floor. From this point you can see the church’s dome really well and also the big ceiling. If you continue walking, still down the middle of the nave, something strange happens, but you will be able to observe this when you are there.

“Pozzo depicts himself in his Self-portrait in a rotated posture, pointing to the false dome [in the Sant’Ignazio] that he has just painted, but which is surprisingly not depicted on the canvas. He points to the ceiling with his right index finger, while his left hand rests in the entire work on his writings on illusionary perspective painting and the use of trompe-l’oeil. “A. Pozzo, “Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum [THE MET] “ 1642-1709 Cited  from Wikipedia Dutch and translated

Andrea Pozzo 'Self-portrait' Sant'Ignazio

This church is mainly famous because of the fresco on its ceiling by the Jesuit friar Andrea Pozzo. He depicted the founder of the order, Ignatius de Loyola, as he enters paradise. It is a beautiful example of Baroque painting with a cleverly thought out perspective.  Wikipedia has many pictures of the ceiling.

Andrea Pozzo ‘St. Ignatius in Glory’      Scheme ceiling

Andrea Pozzo 'St. Ignatius in Glory'  ceiling fresco
photo: Sailko

If you walk into the aisles, you will find that much of what you saw when you stood near the porphyry stone was just an illusion. This is the limitation of perspective; it works from one point only.

Apse       Zoom in

Sant'Ignazio main altar apse Rome
Wikipedia and photo zoom: David Macchi

We head west and cross the Piazza Navona into the Via di Tor Millina and turn right into the Via della Pace.

Continuation Rome day 6: Santa Maria della Pace