Piazza della Repubblica, formerly called by the Romans Piazza Esedra, originates from the great exedra of the Baths of Diocletian whose perimeter is retraced by the semicircular colonnade of the square, a late 19th-century work by Gaetano Koch.
On the square is the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri by Michelangelo Buonarroti, obtained from a wing of the Roman baths. At the centre, you can admire the beautiful Fountain of the Naiads, which is the exhibition of the Acqua Marcia aqueduct, built by Quinto Marcio Re in 144 BC.
In 1885, with the approval of the Master Plan and the arrangement of Piazza dell'Esedra, it was decided that the exhibition should be in the centre of the square itself, in the background of the axis of Via Nazionale.
In 1897, Mario Rutelli was given the commission for the fountain project. He conceived four colossal bronze groups depicting four nymphs, symbolizing water in its different forms: the Nymph of the Oceans with a water horse, the Nymph of the Rivers with a water snake, the Nymph of the Lakes with a swan, the Nymph of the Underground Waters with a lizard.
The work caused controversy, due to the lascivious attitudes of the female figures, so much that the fountain remained hidden in a protective fence for a long time. Then, the polemics focused on the central sculptural group, originally made up of three tritons, a dolphin, and an octopus (now visible in the gardens of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II), then replaced with the current triton embracing a dolphin.