Via del Babuino

Typology: Streets and squares


Address: Via del Babuino
Zone: Rione Campo Marzio (P.Spagna-P.Popolo-Pincio) (Roma centro)
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The statue is of a reclining Silenus which the populace called a baboon (“babuino”) for its ugliness recalling a monkey. The name baboon became so widespread that the name of the street also changed from Via Paolina – since it was opened by Pope Paul III – to Via del Babuino. The statue is part of a fountain built in 1576 against the main façade of Palazzo Grandi. It was a semi-public fountain because it was built by the pope in return for a certain amount of water of the Virgin Aqueduct granted to the building’s owner, Alessandro Grandi. During the 17th century the building became the property of the Boncompagni-Ludovisi princes, who in 1738 decided to restructure it. In so doing, the Babuino was moved to the left and placed within a rustic ashlar frame with two travertine dolphins at the top. In 1877 the fountain was dismantled and the Silenus placed inside the inner courtyard of the building, which now belonged to the Cerasi family. The granite basin instead went to the Via Flaminia and was used as a drinking trough. In 1957, after much insistence on the part of Rome’s citizens, the statue of the Babuino and the basin were again reunited and used as a fountain, placed in a new position not far from its original site, on the side of the façade of the Church of San Attanasio dei Greci. The Babuino was one of Rome’s talking statues, where the populace used to hang their satirical epigrams against the papal authorities, and even rivalled the most famous talking statue of Pasquino, so much so that the invectives of the Babuino were also called “babuinate”.

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Culture and leisure › Cultural heritage › Architectural and historical heritage
Last checked: 2018-12-06 12:36
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