Along with the Palazzo Colonna and the Galleria Borghese, this spectacular family palace provides the best glimpse of aristocratic Rome. Here, the main attractions are the legendary old master paintings, including treasures by Velázquez and Caravaggio; the splendor of the main galleries; and a unique suite of private family apartments. The beauty of the graceful 18th-century facade of this patrician palace may escape you unless you take time to step to the opposite side of the street for a good view; it was designed by Gabriele Valvassori in 1730. The foundations of the immense complex of buildings probably date from classical times. The current building dates from the 15th century, with the exception of the facade. It passed through several hands before it became the property of the famous seafaring Doria family of Genoa, who had married into the Roman Pamphilj (also spelled Pamphili) clan. As in most of Rome's older patrician residences, the family still lives in part of the palace.
in four wings that line the palace's courtyard, the picture gallery contains 550 paintings, including three by Caravaggio—a young St. John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, and the breathtaking Rest on the Flight to Egypt. Off the eyepopping Galleria degli Specchi (Gallery of Mirrors)—a smaller version of the one at Versailles—are the famous Velázquez Pope Innocent X, considered by some historians to be the greatest portrait ever painted, and the Bernini bust of the same Pamphilj pope. Elsewhere you'll find a Titian, a double portrait by Raphael, and some noted 17th-century landscapes by Claude Lorrain and Gaspar Dughet. The audio guide by Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilj, the current heir (born in England, he was adopted by the late Principessa Orietta), provides an intimate family history well worth listening to.