Worth a visit for the architecture itself, the 17th-century Palazzo Barberini has a soaring marble facade with three tiers of arches—the upper two glazed to form towering windows—facing a semi-enclosed courtyard. Inside, Borromini’s remarkable spiral staircase leading up to the piano nobile (main level), and the Grand Salone decorated by Pietro da Cortona's BaroqueAllegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power ceiling fresco, influenced the art and architecture of later palaces across Europe. The magnificence of this Renaissance palace now forms the backdrop to some of the most beautiful paintings in Rome, including Raphael'sLa Fornarina, a portrait of King Henry VIII by Hans Holbein, Guido Reni's portrait of Beatrice Cenci (beheaded for patricide in 1599), and a number of works by Filippo Lippi, Titian, and Caravaggio—including his unforgettable depiction ofJudith Beheading Holofernes.
To fully appreciate Barberini Palace’s important architecture and artistic masterpieces, consider joining a private tour of the National Museum of Ancient Art that includes skip-the-line tickets and a guide. Some Rome night tours and walking tours include a stop by the palace to view its facade, courtyard, and garden...an excellent option for touching on the city’s highlights.