Top architects like Maderno, Bernini and Borromini queued up to work on this vast pile, which, despite its size, was completed in just five years.
Top architects like Maderno, Bernini and Borromini queued up to work on this vast pile, which, despite its size and attention to detail, was completed in just five years, shortly after Maffeo Barberini became Pope Urban VIII in 1623. Bernini did the main staircase, a grand rectangular affair now marred by an ill-placed lift. Borromini, whose uncle Carlo Maderno drew up the original palace plans, added the graceful oval staircase. After lengthy restoration and extension of the gallery into newly acquired parts of the palace, three floors of paintings are now visible. The main show is the splendid first floor salone with the extraordinary ceiling painting by Pietro da Cortona. The Allegory of Divine Providence (1629) is the most Baroque of all Baroque extravanganzas and worth the ticket price all by itself. Highlights of the first floor's main 16th and 17th-century collection are Raphael’s Fornarina (said, probably wrongly, to be a portrait of the baker’s daughter he may have been engaged to at the time of his death in 1520), Holbein’s pompous Henry VIII, Caravaggio’s Judith and Holofernes, and Titian’s Venus and Adonis.
|Venue name:||Palazzo Barberini – Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica|
Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13
00184 Roma RM
|Opening hours:||8.30am-7pm (last entry 6pm) Tue-Sun.|