At the end of 19th century the Nazionale opened in this building, which had been built in 1733 as part of an overall area project decided by Pope Clemente XII (1730 - 1740). The aim was to have a building functionally linked to the one of the Apostolic Curia (now the Montecitorio complex, home of the Italian Parliament ).
The Apostolic Curia Palace was built during the work on the Piazza ordered by Pope Clemente XII. The design of the piazza, as we can see it today, dates back to the end of the 17th century and Pope Innocent XII (1691 – 1700 ) and many old buildings were demolished to take way for it . As a result the owners of the lots, among which the Capranica's owners (the Hotel is on the land that then belonged to Monsignor Capranica), were afterwards authorized to reconstruct their own palaces, according to the new road perimeter. The Hotel Nazionale is part of the Colonna 'quartiere', an historical central district where all the most important institutions where located after Rome became the capital of unified Italy (1870).
This urban district holds two of Rome's most significant historical monuments: Marc'Aurelius' column (hence the name 'Colonna 'quartiere') and the Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome by Emperor Augustus and now facing Hotel Nazionale.
The column, also called the "Colonna Antonina", is on Piazza Colonna and the 16th century inscriptions at its basement tell us that it was erected between 176 and 192 by Commodus,son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, to celebrate his father's victories in ancient Germany. In 1589 Pope Sixtus V ordered the restoration of the column; Domenico Fontana was responsible for the resotration.
Like the bas-reliefs on Trajan's Column the bas-reliefs, although of a lesser quality are a vivid account of Roman life. Bernini developed without success a project to bring Trajan's Column here in order to have the twin columns in the same area.
The obelisk, made of pink granite, was originally erected in Heliopolis (ancient northern Egypt) to celebrate the victory of the Pharaoh Psammetic (594 – 589 b.c.) over the Ethiopians.
The obelisk was brought to Rome by Emperor Augustus in 10 b.c. and once here, it was first put in Piazza Campo Marzio as the gnomon of a colossal sundial.
Between the 9th and 11th centuries it ended up buried after a fire and then resurfaced at the end of the 16th century. In 1792 the obelisk was finally re-erected, crowned by a bronze globe with the emblems of Pope Pius VI. (1775-1799) and placed in the site where it stand s today by the architect Giovanni Antinori, facing Palazzo Montecitorio on one side and the Hotel Nazionale on the other.
Work on the imposing Palazzo Montecitorio was started by Bernini in 1653 at the request of Nicolò Ludovisi but remained unfinished. The architect Carlo Fontana took over the project at the request of Pope Innocent XII and, following the design of Bernini fairly closely, finished the palazzo in 1697. The building, used for papal affairs, was known as the Curia Innocenziana until 1870, when it became the home of the new Italian Parliament.
The architecture of Hotel Nazionale fits well into this prestigious environment with his elegant three levels and two mezzanines, its windows with architraves and classical interior décor.
The Nazionale, today as in the past, bears witness to the glorious history of this area and is a landmark of Roman hospitality.