The Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna in … Rome

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps in Rome is a baroque structure of 138 steps in the open air. The landmark leads from the Spanish Square in the capital to the Pincio Hill to the local titular church of Trinita dei Monti. In this article, we will introduce you to the history of the origin of the Spanish Steps. We will present interesting facts that, in part, served as the reason for the increased attention of tourists to this object.

A little about the history of creation

The construction began at the beginning of the XVIII century. But the idea of construction arose long before the design of the structure, and for many years there was a pause due to enmity between the two ruling dynasties: the Spanish and the French. The church at Pincho was a symbol of the French monarchy and was a national stronghold for the French who lived in foreign lands. Located at the foot of the famous steps, the “Spanish Square” played an important role for the Spaniards who lived in Rome. It was here that their monarchs were represented.

There were close family ties between the dynasties. Louis XIV took Marie of Austria (daughter of the ruler of Spain) as his wife, although the feud between the monarchs continued. In order to mend relations, the diplomat Etienne Geffier made a rational suggestion. He recommended that the two buildings, which were of such great importance to the feuding parties, be united by the construction of a staircase. He set out his suggestion in his will, and provided funds for the construction. Cardinal Mazarini did not allow this to happen immediately. Until the end of his days, he prevented the construction.

It was only in 1717 that things got off the ground. The architects Specchi and Sanctis made a project for the building. The construction went on for two years. The Spanish Steps in Rome were officially opened in 1725.

The structure consists of a wide central segment and two narrow (side) sections. Viewing platform is provided at the top.

It is accessible from the side aisles. For decoration elements of heraldic symbols, characteristic for the French, as well as images of symbols of papal authority (crown and eagle) were used. Today this historical monument is very popular with tourists. But not everyone knows what was the first name of the Spanish Steps in Rome, why it is so called now.

The official website of the Italian capital will familiarize everyone with detailed information about the “biography” of the object. Here you can learn that the real name of the structure is “Stairs to the temple of Trinita dei Monti”. And everyone knows the name, which was “common people” and over the years “took root”, came from the Spanish Embassy in Rome, as the building was simply located in the square, at the foot of the stairs. The site contains a lot of other useful information for tourists. There you can find the operating hours of the Spanish Steps observation deck and the schedule for visiting the Church of the Holy Trinity.

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Heritage for our contemporaries

The Spanish Steps are one of the symbols of modern Rome. It attracts foreigners with its size and decoration, and citizens with the opportunity to sit right on the steps or have a celebration of an important event there. Here you can just relax and take original photos.

In the warm season, the authorities organize a flower show right on the steps. In winter, the stairs are transformed into a stage for Christmas performances. And necessarily once a year, in summer, the Spanish Steps become a catwalk for designer shows of the masters of world fashion.

Near the staircase there are historical sites that attract the attention of travelers.

Barcaccia Fountain

A place that attracts visitors to the city with its unconventional appearance. The structure is located at the foot of the famous landmark and depicts a sunken boat. The construction of the fountain is a tribute to the memory of the Italians of the flood that took place in 1598. The idea for this particular idea, in the form of a fountain, gave the architect an incident that occurred during the elements – the flood “brought” a boat to the flooded area. The fountain appeared in 1627.

Church of the Holy Trinity (Santa Trinita dei Monti)

It was built over a period of 83 years. After opening in 1585, the church was restored only once, two centuries later. It was the residence of a French cardinal.

In front of the entrance to the church is an ancient Roman obelisk. Its style is reminiscent of Egyptian statues. From the observation deck you can see wide horizons and an excellent panorama of Rome. The description of the exterior of the temple admires the number of elements in the decor. And not without reason. The facade of the building was designed by renowned Italian architects who lived during the Renaissance. Inside the church, the masterpiece by Daniele da Volterra (Michelangelo’s apprentice) – the fresco The Deposition from the Cross – takes pride of place. The facade of the church is enhanced by the two bell towers above it. On them can be seen the dials of traditional and sundial. Both are still active today. Masses are held in French. Opening hours: daily from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm.

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How to get there

Once in Rome, the area of the Spanish Steps will not be difficult to find on your own. The exact address is: Italy, Spain Square, 00187, Rome. The landmark has a good location in the area, where there are several hotels. Staying in one of them, a tourist can walk to the famous staircase and on foot.

You can walk to the square along Condotti Street, visiting at the same time the many boutiques of the capital.

If the starting point of the traveler will be the crossroads of 5 streets, you should choose the direction – Via Frpánchezco Crispi. After passing the block, turn to Via Sistina. The easiest way to decide on the route, guided by the scheme of the city. By accurately marking your location on the map, it is easy to find the shortest route to Piazza Española.

How to get to your destination if you live in another area of Rome?

One option is a cab service. The price depends on the distance to be covered and your ability to bargain with the driver. An alternative to this method is public transportation. From Termini station you can get there on the subway. The end station is “Piazza España” (use line A). The fare is 1.5 euros. Tickets are sold at metro ticket offices, as well as in vending machines near any station, in stores, bars and tobacconist’s stands. The most convenient way to get there is up to you.

Piazza della Spagna in Rome begins the city’s famous shopping streets. Slowly strolling you can enter the prestigious boutiques, buy gifts for relatives or indulge yourself with items from Prada, Gucci or Valentino. Nearby there are many cafes, offering a fragrant Italian drink. You can have a great rest in the old English tea house Babington’s, which is famous for its traditions for 120 years.

It is forbidden to eat on the steps of the Spanish Steps.

Whenever you visit Rome, no matter what event takes place on the steps of the Spanish Steps these days, we can safely say one thing: such popularity of the structure cannot be exaggerated. This is evidenced by the numerous reviews of experienced tourists.

Spanish Steps in Rome

The Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Spagna) are one of the most popular tourist spots in Rome. Located in the square of the same name, it is famous for its grandiosity, beauty and historical significance.

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The overall atmosphere that reigns here is always one of celebration and festivity. Maybe that’s why every summer it hosts a fashion show with collections from the most famous couturiers – the days of haute couture.

This is where the famous houses Prada, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari. And how many shots of various films were shot in this part of Rome with views of the majestic architectural structure!

History of the Spanish Steps

The construction of the Spanish Steps was entrusted to the architects Alessandro Specchi and Francesco de Sanctis, who won the competition in 1717 to design and build this “bridge” linking the church of Santa Trinità dei Monti and Piazza di Spagna.

According to the original plan, the Spanish Steps were to be a pompous and grandiose architectural composition.

Spanish Steps

Photo: Alexandr Medvedkov / Shutterstock.com

Unification of dynasties

The fact is that in those days the church in question, located on top of Pincio Hill, was under the patronage of the kings of France, while nearby, in the Spanish Square, was the seat of the representation of the kings of Spain.

In order to connect these two related dynasties in a territorial sense, the French diplomat Etienne Geffier planned to build between them a symbolic Spanish staircase, which he stated in his will.

However, when the matter came to the attention of Cardinal Mazarini, he demanded that the ladder be headed by an equestrian statue of the French king Louis XIV, which understandably angered the pope. Without deciding whose dynasty’s symbol was to be placed at the top of the staircase, the Spanish Steps project was shelved.

To create the stairs came back only in 1723 after the death of the king. After holding a competition, famous architects were chosen, who were engaged in the construction of this large-scale structure until 1725.

And yet the two dynasties managed to find a compromise in the realization of the project conceived by the French diplomat. Without placing the statue of the king, in the architecture of the staircase itself were combined heraldic lines, the symbol of the Bourbon dynasty, with an eagle and a crown, the iconic elements of the power of the Pope.

Modern times

Up to 1997, when the Spanish Steps were reconstructed, this work of art did not undergo any architectural changes. After the reconstruction the staircase acquired a new life and was reopened to many tourists and citizens.

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At any time of the year there are a lot of tourists resting on the steps of the staircase and admiring the magnificent views from above. In summer, numerous azaleas bloom and fragrance, serving as a striking decoration of this stunning project. In winter the stairs are part of the Christmas story: scenes from religious scripture are placed on them.

Architecture

The magnificent Baroque staircase consists of 138 steps made of travertine stone, rather heterogeneous. Some steps are narrower, others wider, some are concave or, on the contrary, convex, the width of the span is also different everywhere. All this gives the staircase a unique and “live” look.

Spanish Steps

Photo: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

It has a wide segment in the center and narrower sections on the sides. The observation deck is at the top – you can go up the side spans. On both sides, the steps are decorated with baroque rims.

The Spanish Steps are decorated with the coat of arms of the French Bourbon dynasty and the symbols of papal power – an eagle and a crown.

The whole architectural complex, including the Spanish Square, the fountain, the Spanish Steps, the church at the top, although belonging to different time periods, but look very picturesque and harmonious.

Spanish Steps

Photo: avarand / Shutterstock.com

Church of Trinita dei Monti

Few people know that the original name of the Spanish Steps was the Staircase to the Temple of Trinita dei Monti (Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti). The church with this name on the top of Pincio hill was built in the 16th century by order of King Louis XII. It was a kind of symbol of the French monarchy.

The church is well preserved until the present time. In its interior decoration, the sculptural group “The Deposition” by Daniele da Volterra, who was a pupil of Michelangelo, is of particular importance.

Barcaccia Fountain

From the top of the stairs you can admire the Barcaccia Fountain in the Spanish Steps. This fountain was created in 1627-1629 by the sculptor Pietro Bernini, whose father was the famous Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini.

Spanish Steps

Photo: Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com

In the stone sculpture of the fountain, the master embodied the plot of a legend, according to which the remains of a fishing boat were thrown onto the banks of the Tiber.

Legends

The Spanish Steps are also famous for the mystical stories told about it by the locals. For example, many see here the figure of the English poet John Keats, who died in the building to the right of the stairs. It is now a house museum dedicated to his work as well as to the poet Mary Shelley.

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John Keats came to Rome hoping to be cured of tuberculosis at the age of 25, but unfortunately the illness was stronger than the Italian climate and charm.

While living in this house in the last months of his life, he made a will in which he asked only that the following words be carved on the tombstone: “Here rests he whose name is written on the water,” without his name or dates of death. Perhaps it was the noise of the water coming from the Barcaccia fountain that became iconic for the poet.

Others tell of the ghost of Count Cagliostro’s beautiful wife, Lorenzi Feliciana. She had to appear in court against her husband, who was accused of witchcraft. When the death sentence of the count was unexpectedly changed to life imprisonment at the trial, the beautiful woman was placed in a convent for the rest of her life.

The Spanish Steps in the Movies

This important landmark of Rome was depicted in the famous movie “Roman Holiday” starring Audrey Hepburn. In many films you can also see the famous Pincio hill with the towering church.

How to get to the Spanish Steps

The nearest metro station leading to the Spanish Steps is Spagna. Once out of the subway, you will not get lost – almost next door is Spanish Square with the same name stairs. There are no better place to visit than the Spanish Steps.

Visit also

After climbing the steps of the Spanish Steps, enter the church of Trinita dei Monti. It is a splendid church with beautiful decorations and an evocative sculpture by Daniele da Volterra, The Deposition from the Cross.

After lounging on the stairs and admiring the gorgeous view, take a break from the hot sun and have a cup of tea in the best English tradition.

At your service is Babington’s Tea Room, located to the left of the Spanish Steps. It was opened here in 1896 and many famous Italians and guests of the city gathered here.

Excursions in Rome

If you want something more interesting than the traditional map tour around the city, try a new format of sightseeing. Nowadays more and more popular are unusual excursions from the locals! After all, who better than a local knows the history and the most interesting places in Rome?

You can see all the tours and choose the most intriguing ones on Tripster.

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