Spanish Steps Rome Italy - a short history


Otherwise known as the Scalinata della Trinita dei Monti, this place in Rome is a monumental staircase connecting a Church with the Piazza di Spagna or Spanish Square. Rome has dozens of such squares spread all over its breadth, but only a few are as renowned as the Spanish Square. It is one of the most popular meeting places in Rome and also one of the most visually pleasing. Its combination of a staircase, church and an obelisk can only result in its being immortalized in photographs.


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A short history of The Spanish Steps Rome Italy


They are in the shadow of the Spanish embassy to the Holy See. This proximity gave the steps as well as the square their name.

They are a long series of double steps designed and built between 1723 and 1726 to link the Trinita dei Monti with the Piazza di Spagna. They were modelled on the steps leading up the Basilica de Sacre Coeur on the Butte de Montmartre in Paris. At the top was the Trinita dei Monti, a French church in an Italian landscape, while Piazza di Spagna is at the bottom. The construction of a church or any other major public building on top of a hill is an old technique to place it at the centre of a city as well as to dominate it. The views from the top were spectacular and compensated for the arduous climb.

They were based on an idea first proposed in the 17th century, but politics and lack of funds delayed their construction. The French church dates as from the late 15th century and was commemorated during the reign of Louis XII. It is here where the aforementioned obelisk stands but it was only brought here upon the order of the pope Pius VI in 1788.

During the reign of Louis XIV, French power extended to parts of northern Italy and influenced the papacy. They wanted to build a statue of the Sun King on the hill as well, but papal opposition delayed the project until 1722 when the new pope Innocent XIII appointed a new architect, Francesco de Sanctis, who presented a compromise design.

The staircase consists of 137 double steps over twelve different flights and appears slightly irregular but from above symmetry develops before the naked eye.

A brief note on the Piazza di Spagna helps one understand more about the Spanish Steps. The Piazza di Spagna's purpose was to create a space uniting the Via Babuino with Via Felice, which was interestingly the first great street that was built during the papal reign of Sixtus V in the late 15th century. Its triangular shape contains two interesting monuments; firstly, the Fontana della Barcaccia, which is at the foot of the Spanish Steps and secondly, the Colonna dell'Immacolata or Column or the Immaculate Conception.


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