Envisioning Baroque Rome

baroque Rome

Project Overview

Envisioning Baroque Rome is a digital humanities project that provides an online, 3D, walkable reconstruction of the city of Rome ca. 1676, using the gaming platform Unity.

The reconstruction is grounded in Giovanni Battista Falda's (1643-1678) bird's-eye view map of that year, and subsumes the fine detail of more than 300 views of the city etched by the artist. The project enables visitors to enter the map to the streets of the Baroque city as virtual pedestrians, where they can enjoy activities such as:

  • Gazing up at church facades that once towered over surrounding buildings
  • Climbing the Capitoline Hill to look down on the tree-lined cattle market that once filled the ancient forum
  • Crossing the Tiber River on the Ponte S. Angelo to explore the long lost portions of the Borgo neighborhood
  • Entering the Pantheon and following light from the oculus as it moves across the floor

Reconstructed from the map and etchings of a single artist, made over a period of just 15 years, Envisioning Baroque Rome recaptures piazzas, streets, fountains, and architecture lost to the various urban renewal campaigns of the intervening centuries.

Giovanni Battista Falda's exceptionally detailed 1676 plan of Rome launched as Virtual Rome in a first iteration as a virtual, walkable experience of the 17th-century city using a video-gaming platform as part of the Michael C. Carlos Museum's 2013 exhibition, "Antichità, Teatro, Magnificenza: Renaissance and Baroque Images of Rome."

Project Highlights

Emory Partners

Michael C. Carlos Museum

Department of Art History

Emory Libraries

Library and Information Technology Services (LITS)

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library


Vincent J. Buonanno


Michael C. Carlos Museum

Emory Libraries

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

An Anonymous Donor

Project Contacts Envisioning Baroque Rome website | Project portal

3ds Max



Key Contributions

ECDS projects advance Emory University's mission through research, pedagogy, publishing, and public scholarship.


In order to "build" Envisioning Baroque Rome, a team of academics, architects, digital artists, and visual information specialists studies Falda's Rome in map and views, checks Falda's data against Rome today, against the surveyed map of 1748 by Giovanni Battista Nolli, and against 17th-century ichnographic and surveyed maps that survive in the Roman archives.

We perform spot research to verify aspects such as the heights of facades, the material of street surfaces, and the width of piazzas, and to understand the significance of ephemeral sites and structures included in the views and map.

Pedagogy This project integrates original sources of 17th century prints in a new an innovative way.
Public Scholarship The project is being made available through a portal on the website.