One of the reasons I love visiting Italy is the number of beautiful extravagant residences owned by powerful elite families. While these families may not possess the political prowess from days gone by (i.e. Medici Dynasty), their legacy lives on. For example, the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is still privately owned by the Roman family Doria-Pamphili. Famous family members include the admiral of the Republic of Genoa Andrea Doria and Pope Innocent X (Giovanni Battista Pamphilj) whose famous portrait was painted by Diego Velázquez and is on display at this gallery. Rumor has it that Pope Innocent was startled by the realistic depiction Velázquez portrayed (“too real”).
One of the reasons for visiting is that it open on many days that other tourist sites are closed on. For example, we were there the first week of May (May 1 - almost everything is closed due to International Worker’s Day), but the gallery was opened! Note that there is a separate apartments tour which you can do (separate from the 12 Euro admissions fee). However it is not come as you please, and you can only visit during scheduled times with a guide. We opted not to do this as the next tour was scheduled an hour from when we arrived.
Of note, the adopted son Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilj still lives in the apartments with his family. You can read his life story and perspective on growing up here.
The Gallery of Mirrors. Made to imitate the Galerie des Glaces of Versaille, clearly one can see the inspiration. The mirrors on both sides of the walls were imported from Venice. The design was by Gabriele Valvassori. The frescoed ceiling of the hall illustrates the Labors of Hercules (which according the Pamphilj family tree, a distant relative is “related” to the Greek legend.)
What to See
The gallery is one of the Rome most valuable private collections of art, mainly assembled by Pope Innocent X. Famous painters in the collection include Velázquez, Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael. A list of the “masterpieces” can be found here and here. Your visit will take from 1-2 hours to half a day, depending how much of an art fanatic you are. The gallery is fairly small.
For anyone with a few hours to kill, art historian, or those who love glamorous settings, this is a nice place to visit. I was disappointed by the dim lighting in many rooms, which has the benefit of preserving the art and historical relics, but limits the viewer to fully appreciate certain paintings. I recommend reviewing the list of paintings and sculptures beforehand so you know what to expect.