VIA DEL CORSO, Montecitorio

Audio File length: 2.28
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

The historic Palazzo Chigi, which dates back to the late 1500s, looks over Piazza Colonna. This building, which is now the seat of the Council Presidency, is basically connected to the neighboring Palazzo di Montecitorio, thus composing an architectural complex destined for politics. You should know that since 1871, when Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, the highest state bodies took office in ancient palaces that formerly belonged to popes, cardinals, and noble families. For example, the Senate of the Republic took its home in the late-1400s Palazzo Madama, where it still resides today, while the Chamber of Deputies chose Palazzo di Montecitorio, which was built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1650 for Pope Innocent X Pamphilj.

A wooden room was built in the courtyard that was for the deputies, while the interior halls were precipitously furnished with furniture and upholstery taken from the Royal Palace of Caserta. The first session was held on November 27, 1871, but the location turned out to be inadequate: it was full of chills in the winter, torrid in summer, had impossible acoustics, and even the smallest amount of rain let water in through the roof! After putting aside the idea to build a new seat for the Chamber, the entire back section of Montecitorio was completely rebuilt and expanded. Courageously, a totally modern building was constructed behind the ancient Baroque façade, and enclosed by four floral towers. The architect was able to create a functional and spectacular complex, with some brilliant ideas that have become part of the history of Italian politics: for example, the so-called Transatlantic Salon owes its name to the fact that its ceiling is similar to those that were found on the transatlantic ships of the early 1900s. The "new" Montecitorio was inaugurated in 1918: after half a century, the Italian Parliament had finally found its home.

 

FUN FACT: the Egyptian obelisk you see in front of Montecitorio commemorates Pharaoh Psammetic II and is more than 2500 years old: a modern architect put the perforated globe on its tip, through which the sun, like a sundial, should have marked the hours on the pavement of the square. But don't waste time looking at the ground, because the sundial never worked!

And with this we have finished our tour of Via del Corso in Rome. MyWoWo thanks you for staying with us, and will see you at the next Wonder of the World!

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