- During the Middle Ages, this square formed the main entrance to the city for pilgrims and travellers arriving on the Via Flaminia (from the north). It was only when Pope Sixtus V placed the 1200 BC Egyptian obelisk of Ramses II in the centre of the square that Piazza del Popolo took on its current function. The obelisk is the tip of the trident formed by the three streets that begin in the square: Via del Corso, Via di Ripetta and Via del Babuino. Valadier was the architect who gave the square its present elliptical appearance by building the two ramps that lead to the Pincio. Two shell-shaped fountains overlooked by groups of statues stand in the two hemicycles. Valadier was also responsible for the buildings on Via del Babuino and Via di Ripetta that are today occupied by the famous cafés Rosati and Canova.
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