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Via del Portico d'Ottavia was a type of boundary for Jewish people confined to the Ghetto. The Jewish Ghetto was created in 1500 following an order by Paul IV and the Jewish people of Rome have lived here since 1870. The left side of the street has remained almost unchanged. There are some very interesting Medieval and Renaissance buildings, such as the house of Lorenzo Manilio at numbers one-two, and the buildings at numbers eight-eleven and twelve-fifteen. They all have picturesque windows and porticos. There is also the church of San Gregorio a Ponte Quattro Capi, known as the church of the Divina Pietà and, at the bottom of the street, the old remains of the Portico d'Ottavia.
This area has been frequented by the Jewish community since the year 1000, thus the name "ghetto." It is full of archeological remains, dating to the medieval period and earlier. The significant monuments that can be seen include Octavia's Portico, built by Augustus for his sister, now incorporating the church of Sant'Angelo in Pescheria. Cola di Rienzo was born in this area, and a plaque marks his birthplace in what was once Via della Fiumara. The Synagogue, with its square dome, is very different from the surrounding Roman city architecture, and on the wall of the riverside street there are slabs with inscriptions commemorating the death of the Jews in the Nazi concentration camps and at the Fosse Ardeatine.
The house of the humanist Lorenzo Manilio is now numbers one and two in the Via del Portico d'Ottavia. One inscription gives his name in Latin and Greek on the architrave, while another is in Roman letters on the frieze, noting the year of construction as 1497. The house is on two levels with shops on the ground floor. It was decorated with high reliefs of which some fragments remain. The scene of a lion attacking a deer and another of two dogs are particularly noteworthy.
The fountain was sculpted by Pietro Gucci at the end of the 16th Century. It was designed by the famous Giacomo della Porta and is regarded as one of his best works. It was left in the city depository until 1924, when they used its upper basin and part of the supporting structure to build another fountain next to the Sant'Onofrio al Gianicolo Church. These pieces were subsequently replaced by copies when they decided to rebuild the original fountain in 1930.
The fountain in the Piazza di Campitelli was designed by Giacomo della Porta. It was originally placed in the center of the square, before being moved, by order of Pope Innocent XI, away from the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Campitelli following the church's restoration and enlargement. The fountain is fed by the Acqua Felice and is decorated with various friezes and large masks from which the water spurts. It bears the coats of arms of four influential local families and the effigies of the Senate and the Roman people.
This lovely fountain from the late 16th Century was ordered by the Mattei family to Giacomo della Porta's design. The statues, on the other hand, are by Taddeo Landini. The turtles that gave their name to the fountain, the work of an anonymous sculptor, were added only a century later. Some think that their creator may even be Bernini, but the evidence is thin; it was perhaps one of his pupils, which would justify any similarities between this work and the work of the illustrious sculptor.
The origins of this theater run back to 23 BCE, when Augustus had it built in honor of Marcus Claudius Marcellus, his nephew and adopted son. The theater had space for 20,000 people, and was used for games and celebrations. The construction fell into ruin during the following centuries due to plunder and fire: in fact it became a sort of quarry from which materials were taken for the construction of buildings, churches and so forth. Restoration began in about 1300 when the Savelli family bought the ruins. The same family performed further work two centuries later, and this was continued by the Orsini who acquired the complex in order to enlarge their own building: they restored part of the theater. Today, concerts are organized here, and this is the only way of seeing it from the inside.
The streets between Piazza Venezia, Piazza del Campidoglio and Via delle Botteghe Oscure lead to Piazza Margana or Piazza Marghane, the square named after the powerful family that lived in the district. This medieval area was not touched during modifications to Rome made in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The palaces of the nobility were all built in the 17th Century over Renaissance buildings so they have maintained their original characteristics. The Palazzo Albertoni was frequented by artists and writers who instituted the monthly prize, the Tor Margana, which lasted until the 1970s. The square was also used for open-air art exhibitions during those years.