Located in one of Rome’s grandest aristocratic palaces, this art gallery contains treasures by artists including Raphael and Holbein.
The full title of the gallery is the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica (National Gallery of Ancient Art). The setting is incredible – gazing up at the breathtaking fresco in the main hall, it is hard to conceive of the wealth and the power centred here. The fresco, by Pietro da Cortona, dates to 1632 and is a glorification of the Barberini family, and in particular of Maffeo Barberini, Pope Urban VIII, the Barberini who commissioned this extravagant palace to designs by Maderno, Bernini and Borromini.
The art collection here comes from the galleries of Rome’s great families and includes works dating from the twelfth century to the eighteenth. One of the most famous paintings on display is Raphael’s portrait of La Fornarina. Filippo Lippi’s Madonna and Child, (a remarkably ugly pair) is another gem, along with works by Canaletto, Andrea del Sarto, Titian, Caravaggio, Sodoma and El Greco.
Palazzo Barberini has its main, grand entrance on Via delle Quattro Fontane. The entrance for the gallery’s ticket office, however, is hidden around the back of more recent buildings at Via Barberini 18, just yards from Barberini Metro station (Linea A). The gallery is open from 8.30am until 7.30pm (closed Mondays). Note that you must leave bags in the lockers provided and refrain from using mobile phones and cameras in the building.
On this site