The statue of the Pope in Sala degli Orazi e dei Curiazi at Palazzo dei Conservatori and detail of the stole
Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini 1568-1644) from a Florentine family is known for the many initiatives
he took to embellish Rome during his long pontificate (1623-1644). The young Gian Lorenzo Bernini was his favourite
artist and the two created over a period of twenty years
some of the Baroque masterpieces one can see
in Rome, although at the expenses of ancient Roman buildings, e.g. the Pantheon.
Three bees are the symbol of this Pope and can be seen on many monuments of Rome. But the Barberini had another symbol which does not show on their coat of arms: the Sun, as you can see on the statue of the Pope by Bernini once in Palazzo Senatorio, now in Palazzo dei Conservatori.
Sometimes the bees were destroyed by enemies of the Barberini family or in general of the Pope, while the Sun was spared. So when going around in Rome, remember that the suns you see do not represent Helios and have no pagan origin!
S. Pietro - Baldachin: detail showing suns and bees
The fountain in Piazza di Spagna
Pietro Bernini the father of Gian Lorenzo found the way to please his master and to not sacrifice art in La Barcaccia (the Boat), one of the nicest fountains in Rome in the centre of Piazza di Spagna (the Spanish Steps). The sun is shining: the sunbeams are very long and neatly sculpted. This representation of the Barberini symbol became the pattern for many other suns.
Porta del Sole at Palestrina
Palestrina, the ancient
Preneste, became a fiefdom of the Barberini family, who built here their country residence on top of a Roman Temple.
They rebuilt the walls of the little town and they put their coat of arms on the main gate, but the bees did not survive, while the sun stayed on to the point that today the gate is called Porta del Sole (Sun Gate). The sun is also at the centre of the clock at the top of Palazzo Barberini in Palestrina.
Relief at UniversitÓ della Sapienza
The University of Rome is called "La Sapienza" (the Wisdom) after a plate on its fašade with the saying "initium sapientiae timor Domini" (the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God). Urban VIII nearly completed a large renovation of the building and the Barberini sun shines on the walls.
Relief at Monastero Dominicano della Minerva
Monastero Dominicano della Minerva near the church of S. Ignazio was very close to the offices (bureaux hence the nearby Via de' burr˛) of the French administration during the exile of the Pope (1807-1814). The bees did not survive, but the sun still shines.
Decoration of the chapel
To close this page let's visit the very
sophisticated little chapel in the Barberini Palace in
Palestrina. The picture of my Guestbook comes from there!
The walls are covered by marble mosaics with the bees and obviously the sun. It's definitely worth the journey.