In Piazza Manfredo Fanti, surrounded by a small garden, is the monumental building, inspired by classical architecture, born on the initiative by ichthyologist Pietro Carganico from Como, for the construction of a fish farming establishment with an aquarium, a mainly recreational space on the model of the Parisian squares, embellished with a pond and small bridges.
The construction was part of the modernization project of Rome by Quintino Sella, with the idea of making the capital a centre of science. Inaugurated in 1887, based on a project by the architect Ettore Bernich, the Aquarium was used for its institutional purposes for a short time: between 1900 and 1930, it was a theatre (Petrolini and Viviani performed there), a cinema, a circus and, finally, warehouse of the Governorate and storage of Teatro dell'Opera sets, then abandoned until 1984.
The Acquario Romano has a cylindrical body with an entrance forepart with a niche arch, which is accessed by two symmetrical stairs. The main facade is richly decorated with elements of aquatic inspiration, such as the sculptures "La Pesca" (Fishing) and "La Navigazione" (Sailing), kept in the aedicules on both sides of the entrance. On the top of the attic is the group of statues depicting the chariot of Venus pulled by a Triton and a Nereid.
In the garden, there is one of the most interesting sections of the Servian Walls, built around the 4th century BC to defend Rome. What remains is not only the structure in large blocks of tuff but the entire defensive system: the walls and the deep fosse that completed and reinforced it on the outside, and a series of buildings from the imperial age which lean against it.After entering the atrium with its splendid "Pompeian-style" ornamentation and the niches full of statues, is the central hall, elliptical in shape, dominated by a skylight. A double order of cast iron columns, supporting the upper gallery and the ceiling, marks the great hall, where the tanks - now walled up - opened on the ground floor, decorated with mirrors painted by Silvestro Silvestri.
The site fascinates for the beauty and quantity of decorations.Today, after a long restoration, the Acquario Romano is Casa dell'Architettura: a place aimed at giving voice and spreading the new design excitement, to exhibit the latest trends in architecture, local and international art, a multifunctional venue where promoting culture and organizing events and institutional activities of the Order of Architects.
Photo creditis: Acquario Romano Official Website
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