Spanish Steps

Between the Piazza di Spagna and the Trinita dei Monti
Rome, Italy

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

These broad steps connect the Spanish Square with the Church of the Trinita dei Monti and offer an excellent view of the city.


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History & Background

These broad steps connect the Spanish Square with the Church of the Trinita dei Monti and are visually distinctive because of their Baroque use of perspective and the use of trompe l’oeil. The three successive staircases undulate, keeping with Baroque ideals of activity, motion, and energy, and offer an excellent view of the city.

The Spanish Steps at the Piazza were built between 1723 and 1726 by de Sanctis. The Piazza has been a presence in Rome since the Spanish ambassador to the Pope took up permanent residence in the square in the early 17th century. However, in the political climate of Europe at the time, this mere fact of the Pope’s residence became an international issue.

The French were concerned about Spain’s rising power over the Pope and proposed to fund a building project linking the contentious square with the Trinita dei Monti. However, this move was only one in a larger political scheme, and in-fighting and international discussion prevented the project from going forward for the next 50 years. When it was finally built, it ironically became the favorite meeting place for English travelers on the Grand Tour; thus, throughout the 19th century, it was known as the English Ghetto. Presently, it is still a haven for foreign visitors; however, its appeal now rests upon its high-end stores and boutiques.

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