The Borromini’s lantern: the fire of the Knowledge

Imagine to walk peacefully throught the fine streets in the city centre of Rome.
Now, imagine to have to the right an open door.
Passing the entrance, you will stay just in the centre of a courtyard, surrounded by columns. But what is majestic and truly beautiful is a white and brilliant lantern set above a church in front of you.

That lantern, the architectural final part of a dome in a church, has a spiral shape, recalling movements and virtuosism. It isn’t a dream, but a true church which stands not far from Piazza Navona. This is the church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, and the genius who created it and its wonderful lantern was one of the most important artists in Rome: Borromini

The Borromini’s lantern

Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza

It was a church projected during the XVI century, when all the area was under restoration.
What is foundamental to say is that this place was famous in Rome, just because it was the first headquarter of the La Sapienza University.
It was inaugurated during the first years of the XIV century by the Pope Bonifacio VIII, who wanted to show how the city could be the birthplace and the core of the Knowledge.
But over the centuries it was quite destroyed and abandoned.
This is the reason why in the Renaissance, a time in which whatever you want in Rome was restored and built, La Sapienza University was one of the palaces chosen for some restorations.

Cupola - Chiesa Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza

After many years the construction site wasn’t finish.
It was a huge problem, due to the image of Rome which had to indicate the city not only as the place of the Church, but also the refuge of Arts and Wisdow.

They could be created thanks to the deeds of the Christian Church and for this reason the sacred building was essential. Borromini started to work there with a simple aim: he had to built something that could remember to everybody the real symbols of the place.

The Lantern

We could speak a lot about the great project created by the master. How he was able to use geometrical shapes in order to produce a star map, how the inside of the church was so brilliant… but we have to put our attention to the fantastic lantern! An architectural element which connects the ground with the sky, with its curved lines and decorations.

What do it represents?

The lantern is the Fire of the Wisdow, but not only…it symbollically regains the Babele Tower, which was also a symbol of the human Knowledge. Moreover, the lantern regains also the Headlight of Alessandria, other human masterpiece.
So, in this way we could understand how Borromini played with the history and the traditions, in order to obtain something that managed to represent some of the most important human discretions.

Then, he was able to create something more: a new must see monument in Rome!

The Fountain of the Books: how clever is Rome!


Walking through the narrow streets of Rome you will find many little things which make so beautyful and special this great city! One of them is set not far from Palazzo Madama, the seat of the Italian Senate: I’m talking about the Fountain of the Books!

More than one century ago, during the ’20 of the XX century, the Fascism regime decided to provide each single district of Rome with a fountain which could describe the peculiarities of them. The Roman quarters, named “rioni”, were created over the centuries, from the Middle Ages to the end of the XIX century. But they take their origin from the “regiones” of Augustus, formed by the princeps quite two thousand years ago. The Fountain of the Books underlines the main peculiarities of the Sant’Eustachio Rione, which is plenty of historical libraries and not only… Its name takes its origin from Saint Eustachio,

arts in rome
Arts in Rome

who was a Roman Soldier, according to the tradition. Obviously, he was pagan. Sometimes miracles could occur also at the Roman people, and it happened to the young Eustachio. He walked in a forest in order to capture a deer with his bow and arrows. When he was very close to the animal, he saw something incredible: the deer started to talk with him, introducing itself as Jesus. Not only this, because Eustachio admired the animal transforming and taking an human shape. From that time, Eustachio became a real Christian and due to his faith he died in Rome.

imagesThis is the reason why the fountain is provide with this great head of a deer, with its wonderful horns (a similar statue stands just above the final part of the Church of Sant’Eustachio, in the main square of the rione). They are surrounded by many books, from some water gushes flow. That heavy rock tomes symbolizes the numerous libraries in the area and particularly the palace of La Sapienza, the first seat of the University which was born in Rome in the 1300. This is the reason why this graceful fountain leans on the wall of the ancient building which hosted the University (today embellished also by a fantastic church projected by Borromini). Other little curiosity: water symbolizes also the struggle of the study. Do it similar to the sweat? And how much do you sweat after an intese study period?

So, do you want to look at this special monument? A reason for you to walk in Rome…