The Church of Santa Maria del Popolo,in piazza del Popolo, in the Campo Marzio quarter, is, between the churches of Rome, almost a compendium of the various centuries of the history of art and architecture.
According to tradition it was built by Pasquale II at the expenses of the roman people, and that for this it has had the designation “of the People”, then passed to the square.
The small church was enlarged by Gregory IX in 1227 and to the ancient church was annexed a convent entrusted to the friars of the Augustinian Order. Between 1471 and 1477, within the extended activities of the renewal of the city, promoted by pope Sixtus IV, the entire complex was renovated and expanded on a project by Baccio Pontelli and Andrea Bregno, and took his today’s appearance.
Instead date back to the early years of the XVI century the works by Donato Bramante for the reconstruction of the choir with the apse, the construction of the Chapel Chigi, on a design by Raphael; then the changes to the 1600's arrived, with the addition of the chapels of the transept, the replacement of the high altar, the decorative renovation, directed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1655 and 1659, and the addition of the Chapel Cybo of Carlo Fontana, who have finally given the clear impression of baroque which you can admire still today. Outside there was the large convent that was organised around two cloisters, one of which extended up to the middle of the current chamber. At the beginning of the 1800 in the context of the new arrangement of the piazza del Popolo and del Pincio performed by Valadier, the old convent was destroyed in order to make the current square. The new, on which stands the bell tower of the fifteenth century style with the characteristic of the termination conic, is the work of the same Valadier.