The Spanish Steps in Rome

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Picture of Sebastian Erkens
Sebastian Erkens
Spanish Steps in Rome Italy
Spanish Steps Rome

The Spanish Steps in Rome are one of the most famous staircases in the world and an absolute “must-see” among Rome’s attractions.  

The “Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti,” as it is called by the locals, was built between 1723 and 1725.  

The travertine staircase has always served as a direct link between the Piazza di Spagna and the French church of Santa Trinità dei Monti.  

Best tours, tickets & activities:

Tickets to famous Pantheon (only a 15 minute walk away!)

Guided Tour including Spanish Steps (visit Trevi Fountain and more!)

Best food tour in Rome (loved the iconic district Trastevere)

Adress:
Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma

Transportation:
Subway: Spagna stop (line A)

Nearby:
Piazza di Spagna
(0,0 km)
Villa Borghese (0,8 km)
Pantheon (1,1 km)
Piazza Navona (1,3 km)

Recommended exploration time:
1 hour

TABLE OF CONTENTS

History of the Spanish Steps

The builder of the 136-step staircase in Rome was Francesco de Sanctis, an Italian Baroque architect. Two years earlier, he had won an architectural competition launched by Pope Innocent XIII.  

De Sancti’s first design, which included several trees and sculptures along the Roman steps, was initially rejected by the Pope.

The fact that the French Sun, King Louis XIV, financed the construction made it difficult to realize the project. As the staircase led up to “his” French church, Louis had his own ideas about the monument.

According to legend, the stairs were originally intended to be called the “French Staircase”.

Picture Spanish-Steps-Rome

The resulting power struggle inevitably led to a conflict of interest between King Louis and Pope Innocent.

The latter did not want to accept the planned equestrian statue of the French king as a demonstration of France’s protective power, ultimately leading to a rift.  

With a length of 68 meters, a width of 40 meters, and a height difference of 23 meters, the planned construction of the Spanish Steps finally came to fruition.

The three plateaus of the staircase are intended to symbolize the Holy Trinity, the church of Santa Trinità dei Monti, which was consecrated afterward.

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The Church of Santa Trinità dei Monti

The French church of Santa Trinità dei Monti is just a 20-minute walk from Villa Borghese and the world-famous art gallery Galleria Borghese art gallery.

The church is located above Pincio Hill and can be visited free of charge. Masses are also read here in French every Sunday at 11 am.  

The church was built between 1502 and 1587, and there is a 14-metre-high obelisk from Egypt in front of the church. However, this was only erected in 1789 by Pope Pius VI. However, the hieroglyphs on it were only added in ancient times.  

The highest plateau, next to the church, offers a beautiful view of the Spanish Steps and the Piazza di Spagna. Amid all the tourists, there are also numerous street artists. You will also witness the unfortunately very pushy street vendors.  

Church of Santa Trinità dei Monti

Fontana della Barcaccia

Just below the Spanish Steps on the Piazza di Spagna is the “Fontana della Barcaccia” – or the Barcaccia Fountain. This famous fountain in Rome was designed by none other than the father (Pietro Bernini) of the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  

The shape of the fountain, built in 1629, is modeled on a ship. Legend has it that this idea came about when the Tiber flooded.  

A boat that had washed ashore here is said to have been the sole inspiration for Bernini. Today, the fountain is a great photo opportunity and a meeting place for many Romans.  

Fontana-della-Barcaccia.jpg

Azalea flowers on the Spanish Steps

To this day, the Spanish Steps in Rome are one of the most significant buildings of the late Baroque and Rococo periods. Even though Rome has banned people from sitting on the grand staircase since 2019 (fines of up to 400 euros!), you should look at it.  

The baroque work of art is awe-inspiring at the end of April. On December 8 and at the end of Easter, the Spanish Steps are immersed in a veritable flowerbed of azaleas.

Even the Pope personally visits the Spanish Steps on the day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8).  

This magnificent backdrop has also served as the setting for several fashion shows in Rome. Superstars such as Kim Kardashian have already posed here!

Azalea flowers on the Spanish Steps

Where are the Spanish Steps located?

The Spanish Steps are located near the Spanish Embassy in Piazza di Spagna. As you can guess, this is how the Spanish Steps got their name.

There are numerous street cafés, ice cream parlors, and restaurants near the Spanish Steps. If you want to buy new clothes and have the necessary change, you can also shop in Rome’s most luxurious shopping district.  

Exclusive boutiques like Gucci, Prada, Versace, and others are here. The Keats-Shelley Museum offers the perfect opportunity for those who prefer a cultural education. The museum provides literary treasures from an entire era! 

Editor: Sebastian Erkens
Hey and welcome to Rome-Tourist! My name is Sebastian and I travel regularly to Rome, Italy.
On our Rome blog you will get valuable travel tips. If you have any questions about specific tours or sights, feel free to leave us a comment.

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