The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps or Scalla di Spagna or Scalinata della Trinita’ dei Monti is one of the most known places where Rome comes together. The stairs starts at the Piazza di Spagna and leads up to the French church, Trinità dei Monti. Although almost always full-packed, the stairs are definitely worth visiting. Both tourists and locals alike enjoy sitting and lingering on and around the stairs to soak in the place’ s romantic ambience and to enjoy the scenic view of caricature artists and street vendors working at the foot of the stairs exhibiting their skills and of gelaterias, cafes and 18th century buildings surrounding it. It is popular tourist destination for pilgrims, artists and writers who seek for inspiration to write.

Decorated with flowers

During spring, the monumental staircase looks even more magnificent when its architectural beauty is overshadowed by colorful azaleas flowers in full bloom. On summers, a fashion show is held at Piazza and the Spanish Steps serves as the models’ catwalk. And every 8th of December, Italians celebrate the Feast of Immaculate Concepcion and gather near the staircase in front of the Colonna dell’Immacolata or column of the Immaculate Conception where a statue of the Virgin Mary lies on top. The pope himself pays homage to the Immaculate Virgin during the feast and lays a wreath of flowers beneath the statue then gives his blessing to the people.

spanish steps

Disagreement between the French financier and the pope

The Spanish Steps were designed by Alessandro Specchi and Francesco de Sanctis in 1721 in the Roman Baroque style. It took a while before the steps were built because a disagreement rose between the French financier and the pope. The first plan was to put up a as statue of the French King – Louis XIV in the top of an elegant and gigantic staircase that would connect the Piazza to the church. However, Pope Innocent XIII was displeased with the plan and objected to the proposition. Eventually, they came up with a truce and decided to make a garden-terrace instead. Hence, it was not until 1723 when the construction of the staircase started. It was finished in 1726.

Piazza di Spagna

At the bottom of the staircase lies the Piazza di Spagna or Spanish Square. It is home to many designer shops, cafes, restos, hotels and inns. Here, you will also find the famous Fontana della Barcaccia or the Fountain of Barcaccia which is shaped like a sinking ship in a basin. The fountain was built by the request of Pope Urbano VIII on 1598. Built and designed by Petro Bernini and his son Gian Lorenz, it serves to commemorate the tragic flood caused by the River Tiber.

With a French church and French financier heading its building, you would expect the stairs to be called French Steps. The staircase was originally named Trinità dei Monti after the French church above it. Later it was named after the lower piazza – the Spanish Square who got its name when the Spanish Embassy moved to the square in the 17th century.

Piazza di Spagna

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