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.
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.
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.