Palazzo Montecitorio is built on a small rise that was created by a dump of old materials during the Middle Ages. As a result of feuds among the nobles, this whole district fell into the power of the Colonna family and was utilized for ornamental and vegetable gardens up to 1650 when the Ludovisi family commissioned Bernini to build them a residence.
Bernini, the quintessential Roman baroque architect, succeeded in using the lie of the land to determine both its structure and its decoration. The building's façade with its gentle curve follows the slopes of this man-made hill and the rough-hewn stone elements, from which broken branches and leaves are protruding, make the building appear to be constructed within the very rock itself.
Engaging in a challenge with nature, Bernini tried to exploit the natural elements and bend them to his will, even though he knew nature could never be dominated.
The work was interrupted because the Ludovisi family had financial difficulties; it was taken up again and finished 30 years afterwards by Pope Innocent XII who intended to use the building for the Pontifical Curia, the highest administrative body of justice.
The triple-doored entrance is surmounted by a wall belfry equipped with three bells, the largest of which was used to signal school and office hours.
Palazzo Montecitorio was acquired by the Italian State and became the Chamber of Deputies. It was enlarged in 1919 with the addition of a new building on the Piazza del Parlamento side.
The obelisk comes from the Emperor Augustus's clock and was brought here at the end of the 16th century by Pope Sixtus V.