Historic districts in Vatican

Borgo (rione of Rome)

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Borgo (sometimes called also I Borghi), is the 14th historic district (rione) of Rome. It lies on the west bank of the Tiber, and has a trapezoidal shape. Its Coat of Arms shows a lion (after the name "Leonine City", which was also given to the district), lying in front of three mounts and a star. These - together with a lion rampant - are also part of the coat of arms of Pope Sixtus V who annexed Borgo as fourteenth rione to the city of Rome.

of the rione]]

The Borgo borders the Vatican City (Saint Peter's Square) to the west, the Tiber to the east, Prati to the north, the quartiere Aurelio to the southwest and Trastevere to the south.

The territory of the quarter includes a level part, which is made of the alluvial sands of Tiber, and a hilly zone, which coincides with the clayey slopes of the Vatican hill.

Administratively, the Borgo, unlike Trastevere, does not belong to the Center (I Municipio), but to the XVIII Municipio, together with the rione of Prati and the quartieri Trionfale and Della Vittoria (around Piazza Mazzini).

The main roads run east-west and (with the noteworthy exception of the modern Via della Conciliazione) are not named Vie, but Borghi.

Although heavily transformed during the first half of the twentieth century, the Borgo maintains its historical importance as a forecourt to Saint Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Palace.

History

Roman Age: Ager Vaticanus

. The tuff blocks visible in the lower part of the cylinder are Roman.]] The territory of the Borgo during the Roman age was part of the fourteenth Regio, Transtiberim, and was named Ager Vaticanus, after the auguries (vaticinii) which were taken there by the Etruscan Augures. Since it lay outside the Pomerium, and was plagued by malaria, this territory was used as a burial place. Some tombs reached notable proportions: among them, the so called Terebinthus Neronis, which was a round tomb surmounted by a narrow tower; while the Meta Romuli (a pyramid similar to that still standing near Porta San Paolo), was demolished only in 1499.

At the foot of the Vatican Hill two roads started: the Via Cornelia, which joined the Via Aurelia near Tarquinii , and the Via Triumphalis (Triumphal Road), which met the Via Cassia a few kilometers north. The latter was so named because, beginning with Titus, the Roman Emperors used it to enter the city when celebrating their Triumphs.

At the beginning of the Imperial Age, magnificent Villae and Horti (Gardens), such as those owned by Agrippina the Elder, wife of Germanicus and mother of Gaius (Horti Agrippinae), and by Domitia Longina, wife of Domitianus (Horti Domitiae), were built near the slopes of the Gianicolo and Vatican hills.

Emperor Gaius (also known as Caligula) built on the Vatican a circus (Circus Gaianus), which was then enlarged by Nero (Circus Neronis). The obelisk standing today in St. Peter's Square was erected along its raised median (the spina). The circus was connected to the city through an archway (Porticus). Nero also substituted the timber bridge of the Via Triumphalis with a stone bridge, (whose ruins can still be seen in the Tiber during the minimum flow periods) named after him Pons Neronianus or Triumphalis. Emperor Hadrian built near the Tiber his huge Mausoleum, which he connected to the left bank of the river with another Bridge, the Pons Ælius (today's Ponte Sant'Angelo).

But what changed forever the destiny of the zone was the martyrdom of St. Peter at the foot of the Vatican hill in 67, during the first persecution of the Christians. The saint was buried nearby, and this turned the Vatican into a place of pilgrimage. Above the tomb of the saint, Pope Anacletus built an oratory , which in 324 Emperor Constantine turned into a huge basilica devoted to the prince of the Apostles. This church, known today as Old Saint Peter's, soon became (until its destruction in the XVI century, when the new Saint Peter's was erected in its place) one of the centers of Christianity.

Middle Ages: Civitas Leonina

During the early Middle Ages the bridge of Nero fell into ruins, while the Mausoleum of Hadrian was converted into a stronghold (Castel Sant'Angelo), the possession of which ensured control of the city. Despite the wars and invasions which plagued Rome during those centuries, the flood of pilgrims to the tomb of the apostle never stopped. Pilgrims of the same nationality gathered together in associations named Scholae, whose task was to host and to aid men and women of the same nation coming to Rome. The most famous were those of the Franks, Saxons, Frisians and Lombards. Each Schola had its own hospice and church. One of the first – the Schola Saxonum - was built during the VIII century by Ina, king of the Saxons. That hospice became the core of the future Hospital of Santo Spirito, one of the oldest and largest in Rome, founded by Pope Innocent III in 1198. Near the hospital was erected the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. The German pilgrims gave the zone around their Scholae the name Burg (fortified town), which, italianised, became the name of the quarter. , called in Roman dialect er Corridore ("the Corridor"), seen from Borgo S. Angelo: Via dei Corridori (the ancient Borgo dell'Elefante, so named after Hanno the elephant), and Saint Peter's dome are in the background.]]

Since it lay outside the Aurelian's Walls, the Borgo was always exposed to attacks. During the VIII and IX century the quarter – together with the basilica - was plundered several times by the Saracens who landed in Porto (near Ostia, at the mouth of the Tiber), and devastated by fires (that of 847 was immortaled by Raphael in the fresco painted in the stanze vaticane).

Finally, Pope Leo IV built the walls, which still bear his name. On June 27, 852 the Pope, accompanied by the clergy and people, started this undertaking walking bare-foot along the circuit of the new walls. Then, in order to augment the population, Pope Leo settled in the Borgo several families of Corsicans. Since that time, the quarter was no longer considered a part of Rome, but a separate town, the Leonine City (Civitas Leonina), with its own magistrates and governor. It was only in 1586, under Pope Sixtus V, that the Borgo, as fourteenth rione, became again a part of Rome. The Leonine walls, which incorporated an older wall built by Totila during the Gothic War, still exist between the Vatican and the Castle, where they bear the name of Passetto. This constitutes a covered passage, which could be used – and actually has been used several times - by the Pope as an escape route from his residence to the Castle in case of danger. portraying pilgrims reaching Rome during the Jubilee of 1300. They are approaching the Leonine City from N (Prati di Castello). The hills in the background are (from right to left) Monte Mario, Vatican and Gianicolo.]]

In the Middle Ages the quarter was not much populated, with sparse houses, some churches and a lot of vegetable gardens. There were also several brick furnaces, using the clay abundant in the Vatican and Gianicolo hills. A small harbor, the Porto Leonino, later used to deliver the travertine blocks needed to build the new Saint Peter's, existed south of the castle.

The pilgrims going to St. Peter's and coming from the left bank through Ponte Sant'Angelo, after entering a gate (later named Porta Castello) could walk through the Borgo of the Saxons (today's Borgo S. Spirito) or the Porticus or Portica (named now Porticus Sancti Petri), which was still in place. Those coming from Trastevere along the route which would later become Via della Lungara used the Porta Settimiana (today's Porta Santo Spirito), and, finally, the pilgrims coming from the north (monte Mario) following the Via Francigena, entered through Porta San Pellegrino (also named Viridaria because of its vicinity to the Vatican Gardens).

During the first Jubilee, which took place in 1300 under Boniface VIII, the Leonine City, as remembered by Dante in its Commedia was visited by an enormous number of pilgrims.

During the Avignon Papacy the Borgo, together with Rome, suffered decay. The Portica collapsed, and on its place was built the road of Borgo Vecchio, also named Carriera Martyrum after the martyrs going to death in the Circus of Nero. During that time only Borgo S. Spirito and Borgo Vecchio allowed to reach Saint Peter's from the left bank.

Renaissance Age

played an important role in Borgo's town planning. The most famous among his children, Cesare Borgia, lived in the Leonine City.]] The recovery began with the end of the Western Schism and the beginning of the Renaissance. By that time, the center of gravity of Rome began to shift from the zone around Campidoglio, where medieval Rome had developed, to the Campo Marzio plain. At the same time, the Popes abandoned finally the Lateran complex for the Vatican, which now became the new center of power in Rome. The large amount of building activity and above all the rebuilding of Saint Peter, which was the ultimate result of this translocation, attracted several artists to the Borgo, while the renewed flood of pilgrims boosted commerce.

Under Nicholas V, Bernardo Rossellino planned three diverging roads with arcades going to Saint Peter, but the Pontiff's death blocked the project. Sixtus IV opened a new road parallel to the Passetto, named after him via Sistina (later Borgo Sant'Angelo).

Magnificent Buildings were built at the beginning of the XVI Century by high prelates and aristocrats. To enumerate a few: Palazzo Branconio dell'Aquila, designed by Raphael; the Palazzo Caprini by Donato Bramante (a house which Raphael chose to buy, it later became part of the Palazzo dei Convertendi ); Palazzo Castellesi, built by Cardinal Adriano Castellesi, attributed to Andrea Bregno or Bramante and a small-scale copy of the Palazzo della Cancelleria, and Palazzo dei Penitenzieri, the work of Baccio Pontelli. The last three palazzi faced a small square, (Piazza del Cardinale di S. Clemente, later Piazza Scossacavalli), which became the most important in the Borgo.

Also wealthy bourgeoises, such as Febo Brigotti and Jacopo da Brescia, the doctors respectively of Paul III and Leo X, had their elegant houses build in the Borgo.

The Leonine City at that time was also renowned in Rome for its stufe. These buildings, whose tradition came from Germany (the name comes from the German word stube), were something between a Roman bath and a modern sauna, and were often attended by artists, who could freely sketch nudes there (Raffaello himself was owner of a stufa in Borgo, near his palace).

In order to solve the traffic problem, a new road, the Via Alexandrina or Recta, later named Borgo Nuovo, was opened during the Jubilee of 1500 by Pope Alexander VI Borgia. It should be noted, that after the creation of Borgo Nuovo to the north of the already existing road of Borgo Vecchio, the row of houses between these two roads formed the so called "spina" (named thus on account of its similarity to the dividing line of a Roman Circus). At about its middle, the spina was interrupted by a small square, called Piazza Scossacavalli. A recurrent theme of Roman city planning, were the various projects contemplating the demolition of the spina: starting with, that of Carlo Fontana in the late 17th century; and ending, in 1936, when, under Mussolini and Pius XI, this task was finally accomplished. , is the only church in Rome whose dome has no drum. The lower height allowed the Castle's gunners (who owned a chapel there) to practise their shooting skills on the Gianicolo.]]

The golden Age of the Borgo reached its apogee during the reign of the two Florentine Popes, Leo X and Clement VII, both Medicis. Under the latter, the quarter had a population of 4,926 inhabitants, almost all bachelors and non-Roman. Nine out of the twenty five Cardinals belonging to the Curia, each of whom maintained a court comprising hundreds of people, were living here. The most important artists (such as Raphael) took or built their houses in the Borgo. The only important female presence was that of the so called Cortigiane, decent prostitutes, who were the lovers of high prelates and noblemen. . In the background are shown the church of San Giacomo and on the left side Palazzo Giraud. In the middle stands the fountain of Carlo Maderno, now re-erected in front of Sant'Andrea della Valle, in Sant'Eustachio.]]

All this came to an abrupt end on May 6, 1527, when the soldiers of Charles V entered the Leonine City and mercilessly plundered it, so starting the Sack of Rome. Clement VII barely escaped capture, running through the Passetto in his night dress and locking himself within Castel S. Angelo, while all the Swiss Guards, except those defending his escape, were killed near the obelisk.

Despite this disaster, the quarter was able to recover quite quickly. Paul III restored the walls, erecting three new ramparts and the still unfinished Porta Santo Spirito (the work of Antonio da Sangallo the younger). The Borgo continued to growth to such an extent, that in 1565 Pius IV started the construction of three new roads, all north of the Passetto, named respectively Borgo Pio (after himself), Borgo Vittorio (after the victory of Lepanto) and Borgo Angelico (after Angelo his own first name prior to his election). In order to boost the new settlement, he gave tax privileges to the Romans who choose to build their houses here. New Walls, and a new monumental gate (Porta Angelica), were built to protect the new area, which in honor of the Pope was named Civitas Pia. Pius IV also demolished several old churches and monasteries: Among these, in 1564, the old Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, which lies directly next to the Castle. A new church bearing the same name was built in 1587 in the middle of Borgo Nuovo.

XIV Rione of Rome

On December 9, 1586 (the year when Domenico Fontana erected in Saint Peter's Square the obelisk once standing in the Circus of Nero), Pope Sixtus V declared Borgo the fourteenth Rione of the city. Its Coat of Arms represents a Lion (representing the Leonine City), and three Mounts and a Star (taken from the coat of arms of Pope Sixtus).

At the beginning of the 17th Century Pope Paul V restored the Aqua Traiana, an ancient Roman Aqueduct, and had several fountains built in the Rione (among them, that designed by Carlo Maderno in Piazza Scossacavalli, now placed in front of the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle).

Pope Alexander VII, after the completion of the beautiful colonnade designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (built between 1656 and 1665), ordered the demolition of the first block in front of it. He created so the Piazza Rusticucci, the vestibule to Saint Peter's Square. Among the other buildings, which then went lost, there was Palazzo Branconio.

During the 18th and the early 19th centuries the Borgo continued its peaceful existence, and kept its characteristics. The bourgeoises abandoned the rione for the new settlements in Campo Marzio, and Borgo became a quarter inhabited by simple people (artisans or workers at the Vatican), very devoted yet always open to new ideas, and men of the church, who appreciated the vicinity to the Holy See.

Many sellers of religious goods, named Paternostrari or Coronari (rosary makers) had their shops here. At the edge of the quarter, in Vicolo degli ombrellari, a small lane near Borgo Pio, were the shops of the Roman umbrella makers, gathered there because of the bad smell coming from the oiled silk. In Borgo Vecchio several small foundries were active, where artistic objects made of bronze were cast. Particularly characteristic was the making of bells: the last foundry, located in Vicolo del Farinone, closed around 1995, after an activity lasted about 450 years. In the Borgo were also located many famous osterie, where Romans and pilgrims could eat and drink wine.

Another profession peculiar to the men of the Borgo was that of headsman ("boia"). In fact, the executioner was forbidden to live on the left bank, and even to go there ("Boia non passa Ponte", in English: "the headsman cannot cross the bridge", was a Roman proverb), but had to stay in the Leonine City.

The most important yearly event for the rione was the spectacular procession of Corpus Domini, which started and finished in Saint Peter's, and was led by the Pope himself together with the Cardinal Dean, during which each building was dressed with flags and standards.

Things began to change again for the Borgo during the French occupation under Napoleon. The Préfet of Rome, Camille de Tournon, started the demolition of the spina, but the project had to be interrupted shortly after it began due to a lack of funds.

During the Italian Risorgimento the Borgo, together with Trastevere and Monti, was one of the quarters of Rome where public opinion supported with great enthusiasm the struggle for Italian independence. When, shortly after the September 20, 1870 the Italians offered the Pope full sovereignty over the Leonine City with all its inhabitants, this caused violent demontrations in the Borgo. This offer was refused by Pius IX, who preferred to declare himself a prisoner of the Italian State and seclude himself in the vatican complex.

After 1870, the walls of Pius IV which bordered the Rione to the N, were pulled down, together with the Porta Angelica, to ease communication with the new Rione of Prati. Between 1886 and 1911 a new Bridge, Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, located slightly North of the ruins of Nero's Bridge, connected the new avenue of Corso Vittorio Emanuele with Borgo.

1936-1950: the Destruction of the Spina

the foreign pilgrims in Saint Peter, and offered Absolution touching them with a rod. They acquired the Palazzo in 1655.]] This situation changed forever in 1936. In that year the project of the demolition of the spina, by the Roman architects Marcello Piacentini and Attilio Spaccarelli, was approved by Mussolini and Pius XI and put in execution. An agreement between the two leaders had been possible because of the new climate of collaboration between the State and the Church, which followed the signing of the Lateran Treaties ("La Conciliazione" in Italian) in 1929. On October 23, 1936 (the day after the anniversary of the March on Rome), the Duce himself, standing on a roof, gave the first stroke of the pickaxe. On October 8, 1937 (less than one year later), the spina had ceased to exist, and Saint Peter was freely visible from Castel Sant'Angelo.

Due to World War II, the work was interrupted. In the aftermath of the war, although the political and cultural Climate has changed, the government and the Vatican decided to finish the project. Two Propylaea were built in front of Saint Peter's Square (inside that on the south side was enclosed the ancient church of San Lorenzo in piscibus), and two others at the beginning of the road. The road was finished in time for the Jubilee of 1950, by putting along it two rows of obelisks (which the Romans quickly christened "the suppositories").

The result was that almost all the houses of the Rione south of the Passetto were demolished, and a new Grand Avenue, Via della Conciliazione (so named after the Treaty of 1929 between Italy and the Holy See), emerged. A few major buildings (Santa Maria in Traspontina, Palazzo Torlonia, Palazzo dei Penitenzieri) were spared because they were more or less on axis with the new road. by Ettore Roesler Franz (about 1880). The house on the left in foreground belongs to the spina. The bell tower on the right is that of Santa Maria in Traspontina, parish church of Borgo. On the left side of this lane is still visible a rare example of Casa Graffita of the Renaissance.]] All the others were either pulled down and rebuilt with their fronts on the new roads (like Palazzo dei Convertendi, rebuilt on Via della Conciliazione, and the houses of Febo Brigotti and Jacopo da Brescia, whose façades were assembled again on the new Via dei Corridori), or (like the small churches of San Giacomo a Scossacavalli and Sant'Angelo ai Corridori, built respectively on Piazza Scossacavalli and along the Passetto) simply demolished and never rebuilt.

Besides a few drawings, no scientific documentation of the old quarter was taken. Most of the inhabitants, whose families have been living and working in Borgo since centuries, were deported to the outskirts in the middle of the Campagna, as Acilia. That happened because no new apartment houses were built, but only offices, mainly used by the Vatican.

Judgement about the whole undertaking, controversial since the beginning, appears now to be largely negative. In fact, besides the destruction of many ancient edifices and, above all, of a whole social tissue, what was lost forever was the "surprise" (typical of the Baroque), which everyone experienced when, at the very end of the narrow and dark lanes of the Borgo, the huge Piazza and Basilica suddenly appeared. Now, instead, Saint Peter's appears in the distance, flattened as in a postcard, and the sense of perspective gets lost as well.

During the nineteen thirties extensive demolition affected also the NW part of the rione (Via di Porta Angelica e Via del Mascherino). These were officially undertaken in order to better define the border between Italy and the new State of the Vatican City.

Borgo Today

Since 1950, the remaining Borghiciani (the name by which the inhabitants of the Borgo are called in Roman dialect), live north of the Passetto, where the quarter retained until recent times its popular character. Several high prelates live there: among them, Pope Benedict XVI who had been living in Borgo Pio for more than twenty years before his election to the Papacy.

South of the Passetto the quarter shows quite another face: there only now exist, some offices (mainly belonging to the Vatican), an Auditorium, and the huge complex of the Hospital of Santo Spirito, which after more than 800 years continues its mission. The only link with the past are the souvenir shops which stand on Via della Conciliazione.

Two major events hit the Borgo during the last years. In 2000, the Jubilee caused an invasion of pilgrims and a real estate boom. Several apartments became residences for tourists, while many artisans were forced to leave the rione, and their workrooms were transformed into fast food and souvenir stores.

In 2005, during the weeks between the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI, the rione could bravely stand the impact of millions of pilgrims coming to Rome to give homage to the dead Pontiff.

Noteworthy things in the Rione

Squares

  • piazza Scossacavalli (destroyed in 1937)

Roads

  • Via della Conciliazione
  • Vicolo del Campanile
  • Borgo Pio
  • Borgo Santo Spirito

Buildings

  • Castel Sant'Angelo
  • Hospital of Santo Spirito
  • Palazzo Torlonia
  • Palazzo dei Penitenzieri
  • Palazzo dei Convertendi
  • Palazzo Cesi
  • Palazzo Rusticucci
  • Palazzo Alicorni
  • Palazzo del Commendatore

Churches

  • Santa Maria in Traspontina [1]
  • Santo Spirito in Sassia
  • San Lorenzo in Piscibus (deconsecrated)
  • Santi Michele e Magno
  • San Giacomo a Scossacavalli (destroyed in 1937)
  • Sant'Angelo ai Corridori (destroyed in 1940)

Gates

  • Porta Castello
  • Porta Santo Spirito

Bridges

Other monuments

  • Passetto (er "Coridore")
  • Leonine Walls
  • Fountain of the cannonballs, work of Pietro Lombardi

Notes

Шаблон:Reflist

Sources, References

External links

Шаблон:Commons

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