Palazzo Barberini

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View artistic masterpieces in this baroque palace.

Showcasing works from some of the greatest artists that ever lived, Palazzo Barberini is a hidden gem and one of Rome’s most underrated museums.


  • Feast your eyes upon the masterpieces in the collection by artists Raphael, Caravaggio, Tiziano, and many more.
  • Admire Borromini and Bernini’s unique and very different staircases. Which one do you like better?
  • Gaze up at the magnificent grand salon ceiling glorifying the Barberini family, frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.

Tickets & Prices

Explore Palazzo Barberini at your own pace with one of the tickets below. Tickets also grant you access to Palazzo Corsini, the other half of the collection of the National Gallery of Ancient Art. 

Simply buy your ticket online or at the door and you’re good to go.

Full Price Ticket

This ticket is for adults over the age of 18.

Reduced Ticket

This ticket is for EU citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 (with valid ID).

Free Ticket

This ticket is for:

  • Visitors under the age of 18.
  • Groups of EU students and their teachers.
  • EU faculty members and students of Humanities, Architecture, Cultural Heritage, Educational Science, or Fine Arts academies.
  • MiBACT employees.
  • ICOM members.
  • Tour guides (with valid ID)
  • Journalists (with valid press cards)
  • People with disabilities and one companion or helper.

The first Sunday of the month is free for everyone.

Additional Information:

  • The museum is open from 10 am to 6 pm. Last entry at 5 pm.
  • Closed on Mondays.
  • Reservation is mandatory on weekends and public holidays.

What to See and Do 

Here’s what you can expect to see with your ticket:

The Architecture and Interior

Palazzo Barberini is a luxurious Baroque palace designed by three of the most important architects of the 17th century: Carlo Maderno, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Francesco Borromini.

Maderno, who commenced the project, designed an open-winged structure in the shape of an ‘H’ with two parallel wings connected by a central hall. It encompasses an immense ‘secret garden’ that has been restored to its original design and is free to visit all year round.

From the early 17th century to the mid-18th century, various masters worked continuously on the interior decorations, resulting in its ornate and opulent appearance.

The Collection

The collection at Palazzo Barberini consists of artworks from the 13th century to the 18th, with the 16th and 17th centuries being the main draw, with works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Hans Holbein, and many others.

Raphael’s La Fornarina is a masterpiece you cannot miss. This 1520 portrait, aside from being beautiful, also has a juicy backstory. It’s said that Raphael fell in love with the model he was painting, said to be a baker’s daughter (hence the name).

His love for her consumed him to the point where he could no longer work unless she was by his side. His patron, Agostino Chigi, finally consented, and Raphael continued his work until he dropped dead a few months later due to, apparently, too much sex. His last bedmate was La Fornarina herself.

Another unmissable painting in the collection is Caravaggio’s Judith and Holofernes from 1599. This macabre biblical scene shows Judith in the act of beheading Holofernes, blood spurting out of his neck, as the elderly servant gets ready to capture his head. The use of chiaroscuro and naturalistic facial expressions are typical of the artist.

The Staircases

Palazzo Barberini has not one but two monumental staircases designed by two extraordinary rival artists: Bernini and Borromini. They flank the main hall on either side and lead up to the piano nobile (principal floor).

Bernini’s square-shafted staircase complements Borromini’s helicoidal oval one on the other side. Both are unique and beautiful to look at and are a major attraction of the palace.

The Grand Salon

The staircases lead up to the main entrance hall, known as the Grand Salon, with its majestic illustrated ceiling frescoed by Pietro da Cortona. It was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII, owner of the palace and a member of the Barberini family.

The fresco, titled Triumph of the Divine Providence and the Barberini Family, is meant to represent the spiritual and political power of this noble Roman family, and it doesn’t disappoint. Over one hundred characters are represented, all centered around the main figure of the Divine Providence enthroned on a seat of clouds.

With its use of spatial illusionism meant to trick the viewer into thinking the ceiling is much deeper than it looks and its abundance of symbolism and flamboyance, da Cortona’s painting is a prime example of early Baroque art.


Palazzo Barberini is located in the heart of the city center, close to many major sites and Rome’s main train station, Termini. It’s easily accessible on foot from other nearby attractions or by public transport.

Did You Know That: 4 Interesting Facts 

  1. The Palazzo Barberini spans 12,000 square meters over 187 rooms.

  2. The National Gallery of Ancient Art is a misnomer. The gallery does not actually hold any antiquities.

  3. Look out for the Barberini family motif, the bee, placed all over the palace. It represents devotion, hard work, and eloquence, but it also alludes to the divine, as the ancient gods were fed by honey nectar. The Barberini family certainly thought highly of themselves.

  4. In 1936 during the construction of a neighboring building, a Mithraeum was found hidden in the cellars of the rear part of the building. It can now be visited by guided tour.


  • In 1625 Pope Urban VIII, formerly known as Maffeo Barberini, purchased a villa on the Quirinal Hill belonging to the bankrupt Sforza family and gifted it to his two nephews.

  • He commissioned the construction of the palace to renowned architect Carlo Maderno, who incorporated the Sforza villa into his new design, creating an innovative ‘H’ shaped floor plan. He began work in 1627 with the help of his nephew, Francesco Borromini.

  • In 1629 Maderno died, and the commission was passed on to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, at the time a young prodigy famed for his sculptures. Borromini also stayed on the project, and the two artists and ‘rivals’ worked together briefly. Works were completed in 1633.

  • After Urban VIII’s death in 1644, his successor and rival from the Pamphili family, Pope Innocent X, confiscated the palace and exiled the remaining Barberini family members. 

  • The Palace was returned to them years later, in 1653, after reconciling with the pope through marriage ties. The Barberini heirs continued to live in the palace up until 1955.

  • In 1949 the palace was bought by the Italian state to become the second venue of the National Gallery of Antique Art – the first being Palazzo Corsini.

  • The museum opened its doors to the public in 1953 and hosts a collection comprising pieces of art donated by several noble Italian families. Most of the original Barberini collection was sold abroad, though some pieces remain in the museum today.

  • Today, though considered more of a hidden gem than a top tourist destination, the museum is regarded as a must-see for anyone interested in top art and architecture.
National Gallery of Ancient Art in Barberini Palace map

Address: National Gallery of Ancient Art in Barberini Palace, Via delle Quattro Fontane 13, 00184 Roma, Italy · view larger map