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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

via Giulia, near Palazzo Farnese, looking northwest.
via Giulia, near Palazzo Farnese, looking northwest.

Via Giulia is a street in the historic centre of Rome, Italy, mostly in rione Regola, although its northern part belongs to rione Ponte. It was one of the first important urban planning projects in Renaissance Rome.

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The Via Giulia was designed circa 1508 by Pope Julius II but the original plan was only partially carried out. This was the first attempt since Antiquity to pierce a new thoroughfare through the heart of Rome and a very early example of urban renewal. Via Giulia runs from the Ponte Sisto to the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, following the tight curve of the Tiber. In the 16th-century, housing facing the street was favored by borghesi, and specially by the Florentine community in Rome. Today its modest structures provide one of Rome's elite shopping streets, noted for its antique shops.

The Via Giulia runs in a straight line for a full kilometer, an innovation easily taken for granted today. The via was one aspect of Julius' wide-reaching program for the refurbishment of a resurgent Rome and Papal state. His financial reforms, undertaken from the first year of his pontificate, aimed to free the Papacy from its dependence on the great Roman families such as the Orsini and Colonna, and instead relying on Tuscan bankers, notably to Agostino Chigi, member of a banking family of Siena. A part of Julius' overall plan was the reorganization of the medieval city of Rome, whose unrealized assets were becoming apparent as the renewed city grew in economic importance, recovering from the sleepy backwater it had become during the fourteenth century.

The new street was intended as an artery connecting all the governmental institutions, which were crowded in the single section: the Palazzo della Cancelleria, being completed at that very moment, the papal mint and the projected Palazzo dei Tribunali.

The laying-out of the street was placed in the hands of Donato Bramante, who was in charge of the works at the new Basilica of Saint Peter, taking shape on the other side of the river. Vasari states, "The pope was determined to place in Strada Giulia, which was under Bramante's direction, all the offices and administrative seats of power of Rome in one place, for the convenience of those who had business to do there, having been until then constantly much inconvenienced.[1]

At the same time the new artery linked the river port of the Ripa Grande with the new Via della Lungara, and by the Via Giulia to the Ponte Sisto, in order to bring merchandise securely and conveniently to the heart of the marketing and banking zone.

Work was halted on Bramante's majestic Palazzo dei Tribunali, which was to have assembled under one roof all the judicature of Rome. It remained half-built for a generation, to the regret of artists like Vasari. With this an essential element in Julius' urbanistic project was lost.

The street developed as a line of modest houses with gardens behind them, built for private owners or confraternities, sometimes on speculation, broken by more ambitious palazzi. This is the urban context of the "houses of Raphael", with their ground floor street-front shops.

The grand palazzi turned their backs to Via Giulia. In the 1540s Michelangelo had a plan for the constricted gardens of Palazzo Farnese to be connected by a bridge to the Farnese villa in Trastevere on the right bank, Villa Farnesina. The elegant arch still spanning Via Giulia belongs to this other grand unrealized scheme[disputed ].


  1. ^ "Si risolvè il papa di mettere in Strada Giulia, da Bramante indirizzata, tutti gli uffici e le ragioni di Roma in un luogo, per la comodità ch'ai negoziatori avria recato nelle faccende, essendo continuamente fino allora state molto scomode" (Vasari, Vita of Bramante)


  • Roma e dintorni. Touring Club Italiano. 1965.

Further reading

  • Salerno, Luigi; Luigi Spezzaferro; Manfredo Tafuri (1973). Via Giulia: una utopia urbanistica del 500. Rome: Staderini.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 July 2019, at 21:59
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