The Spanish Steps

Interesting Facts

  1. The Spanish steps were built in 1723-1725 by a design of the rather little known architect Francesco de Sanctis.
  2. Financed by French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed.
  3. At the corner on the right as one begins to climb the steps, is the house where English poet John Keats lived and died in 1821.
  4. The long, triangular Spanish square is named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See.
  5. In the 17th century, the area around the embassy was considered Spanish territory.

With its characteristic butterfly plan, the Piazza di Spagna is one of the most famous images in the world, as well as being one of the most majestic urban monuments of Roman Baroque style. In the Renaissance period, the square was the most popular tourist attraction in the city: it attracted artists and writers alike and was full of elegant hotels, inns and residences.

The Foutain

In front of the Spanish Steps stands the Fontana della Barcaccia, a rather sober but elegant looking fountain commissioned by pope Urban VIII and designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini's design, which shows a flooded boat at the center of a basin, was inspired by the flooding of the Tiber in 1598, when a small boat stranded here after the water subsided.

Colonna dell'Immacolata

In the southeast part of the square stands the Colonna dell'Immacolata (column of the immaculate conception). The column was found in 1777 underneath a monastery. It was erected here in 1857 to commemorate the dogma of the immaculate conception. It is now topped with a statue of Virgin Mary.

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