Spanish Steps - Piazza di Spagna, Rome

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Piazza di Spagna

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  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    Crowded, but in a nice way!

    by Jefie Updated Dec 19, 2014

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    While some parts of Rome tend to get unpleasantly overcrowded, that's not the way I felt about Piazza di Spagna at all. While this seems to be the city's most popular square, the crowd here only made for a fun, lively atmosphere. Perhaps it helps that most people had taken a seat on the Spanish steps to chat, take pictures, or simply watch people go by on the piazza down below. This large stairway is made up of 135 steps and it was completed in 1725 on Pincian Hill. From Piazza di Spagna, it leads up to the church of Trinita dei Monti. Unfortunately, the facade of the church was being restored when we were there so I couldn't quite get that perfect shot you often see on postcards of the city, but I still enjoyed walking up and down the steps, checking out the different points of view it offers from its terraces. Another popular spot for pictures on Piazza di Spagna is by the fountain called "Fontana della Barcaccia". The fountain is one of Bernini's earliest works, sculpted with the help of his father. It looks like a sunken ship and is meant to represent a particularly bad flooding that occurred in 1598 when the Tiber swelled and left Piazza di Spagna under about 1 m of water.

    People seating on the Spanish steps Bernini's Fontana della Barcaccia View of Piazza di Spagna from the Spanish Steps
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  • JulietaA's Profile Photo

    A great trip with my friend Cecilia in Rome !!

    by JulietaA Written Nov 28, 2014

    A great trip with my friend Cecilia in Rome !! A very beautiful city with a very favorable climate all week. We receive from graphic designers and decided to celebrate it in a great trip! We went to Rome invited by a friend who lives there and DJ! We visited their beautiful cityscapes. To get fast, we decided to go by air. We flew, obviously, by Aerolineas Argentinas flew very comfortable, cheap and punctual !!! We arrived early and went straight to the hotel and leave everything to maximize the sun had and never miss a single minute! Very nice and elegant hotel. People seemed very friendly and fun! We toured the entire city and all cultural wonders it has to offer visitors! In summary a great time together :)! A greeting! PS: very romantic nightlife in Rome !!! Super recommended !!

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    Spanish Steps in the Piazza di Spagna

    by GracesTrips Updated Nov 2, 2014

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    You immediately notice the beautiful, fushia azaleas in pots. A magnificent church is located at the top of the steps. If you go early in the morning like we did (around 8:30am), not many people are there and it is a beautiful scene as the morning sunlight hits the street and the horse carriages are preparing to give rides for the day.

    We went into the church, Trinità dei Monti, and there was an early morning service going on. The music was like a Latin chant as words were spoken and the chanting was sung. It was chilling to listen to. No musical instruments and the echo of the voices from the acoustics in the church were amazing. I could listen to this the entire day by after 10-15 minutes, it ended.

    Inside the Trinit�� dei Monti church My boyfriend on the steps
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    World's passerelle

    by solopes Updated Oct 2, 2014

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    When the subject is fashion, those steps are in everybody's memories. That's why, after seeing the Pope, everybody must go there.

    As a matter of fact, the local is not particularly attractive, specially knowing that it has Rome around it, but... who cares? You have to go there.

    Ok, we did, fortunately skipping the nearby shops.

    Rome - Italy
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  • brendareed's Profile Photo

    Spanish Steps

    by brendareed Written Jun 2, 2014

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    Sorry, but I just don’t see the attraction in the Spanish steps. They seem overstated and overcrowded. Maybe back in the day when Keats and Shelley were there the steps were special, but even Charles Dickens recorded that the steps were crowded back then!

    The steps were built in 1723 to link the Piazza di Spagna and the church at the top (Trinita dei Monti and the Pincio). In the spring time there are large pots of azaleas adorning the 137 steps and there are nice houses on either side. But if you can’t get through all the people sitting on the steps, what is the point?

    We walked past the Spanish steps during our stay in Rome – took one look at the crowds (even for February it was crowded – can’t imagine it in the middle of summer) and walked away. Maybe I just don’t like crowds, maybe I just didn’t stay around to experience whatever magic these steps have to offer. All I saw were loud tourists and the potential for pickpockets and scammers. No, thank you.

    I’m usually very positive on my travels – but this was just one place I didn’t get. The only positive thing I found was the public bathrooms nearby (to the left of the steps as you look at them)!

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  • egonwegh's Profile Photo

    Step right up - Spanish Steps

    by egonwegh Updated Jun 1, 2014

    I climbed just a few steps. Then I asked my colleague Harrie to take my picture. Fortunately, he heeded to my request. Since this was not his first visit to Rome (and the Spanish Steps), he also pointed out the house on the right, where the poet Keats used to live.

    Rome, Spanish Steps
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    Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps.

    by illumina Updated May 29, 2014

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    Piazza di Spagna is so-called becuase there has been a Spanish Embassy here since the 17th century. However, the French owned the land around the Trinita dei Monti convent, and built the steps in petty rivalry over the right to pass through the square - quite ironic that their steps are now named after their rival country.

    The steps are perpetually covered with tourists, as is the Barcaccia fountain of Bernini in the centre of the square.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    The most monumental steps of Rome.

    by breughel Updated Feb 15, 2014

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    Best known and overcrowded by tourists is the Scalinata della Trinata dei Monti starting at the piazza di Spagna.

    Twenty years ago I visited the steps in May, best time when there are azalea flowers all over the stairs. I didn't try it again these last twenty years because there are more tourists than flowers on the steps.
    Avoid if you have, even a very slight, tendency to agoraphobia!

    Most tourists call the monument "Spanish steps" what might offend the French because the terraced garden stairs were paid by them as they were a project from Cardinal Mazzarin who had planned to erect at the top an equestrian statue of his King Louis XIV. But the Popes did not like the idea of such statue!
    Finally the 138 steps linked the Bourbon Spanish Embassy (at the Piazza di Spagna) and the Trinita dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon Kings of France. The decoration of the steps shows many French royal "Fleur de Lys" emblems.

    The Romans diplomatically call the steps the "Scalinata". I do the same because "When in Roma do …"
    This proverb as such is not from the Romans who spoke Latin, if I remember well, but from the English around 1600 inspired by a letter from St Augustine to bishop Januarius around 390 AD:
    "Cum Romanum venio, ieiuno Sabbato; cum hic sum, non ieiuno: sic etiam tu, ad quam forte ecclesiam veneris, eius morem serva, si cuiquam non vis esse scandalum nec quemquam tibi."
    I presume no translation is needed.

    Scalinata around 1850 - No tourists, wonderful!
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  • gordonilla's Profile Photo

    Spanish Steps

    by gordonilla Written Feb 9, 2014

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    I have to admit, that I was a little unimpressed by this tourist site. I had not expected anything and I sadly got that - nothing special. It was January and it was not so busy. I am sure in the summer with the heat and a blue sky it will be much better.

    There is a fairly good selection of artists sitting at the top of the steps opposite the church at the top.

    View (1) View (2) View (3) View (4) View from The Keats-Shelley House

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Trinità dei Monti: Trinity on the Mount

    by goodfish Updated Feb 7, 2014

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    This poor church has had a kajillion shots taken of its face but hardy any of what’s behind the front door so here is what that looks like.

    Located in Italy, at the top of Spanish Steps owned by France, this is one confusing piece of real estate. And it’s not really very ancient (late 16th century), fancy or loaded with sculptures or frescoes by killer Italian artists. But if you’re going to stagger up ALL those steps to get a look down at the piazza from the summit, it’s as good a place as any to catch your breath...or have a heart attack within last-rites range.

    What we have here is an unassuming nave with a nicely arched but undecorated ceiling, hint of a screen halfway between, and the requisite side chapels. The chapels are more lavishly decorated with paint, the most notable of which are four frescoes dabbled by a student of Michelangelo’s who employed some of his mentor's sketches. That’s Mike himself peering out at you rather crossly from the right side of Daniele da Volterra’s "Assumption of the Virgin" (not shown here). The furrow in his brow would be even deeper had he known that his pupil would later take on a commission to cover - with fig leaves and drapery - the naughty bits of the master’s Sistine Chapel.

    The rest of the works are unremarkable but a pleasant browse. The church may also be reached from the top, without so much huffing and puffing, from Via Sistina. See this website for visiting info:

    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/luoghi-di-culto-di-interesse-storico-artistico/chiese-cattoliche/ss-trinita-dei-monti.html

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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    The Spanish Steps

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jun 23, 2013

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    We got here by taking the metro A-line to Spagna Station. On my first visit to Rome years ago I liked this area. This time I hated it. I hated it purely because it was swarming with people. We could scarcely climb the stairs at all due to the hoardes of people sitting on them. Photos, unless taken at an angle, just show a mass of people. I know I cannot expect to have famous sights to myself; I don't expect to, but visiting here was really just a total waste of time. Maybe early morning is the time to come. Personally, I would never bother going here again. Oh and one more thing - plonked right in the middle of the sight was the ugliest Christmas tree I have ever seen. It did a lot to obscure the church at the top and generally just make the Spanish Steps even more hideous than they were. On the other hand, my husband claimed he liked the bustling atmosphere of the area, so it takes all sorts.

    Oh, the house where Keats was ill and died is on the Spanish Steps. It is now a museum. I did not visit, but would probably have been interested in visiting ( since we had earlier been to see his grave) if the Spanish Steps had not irritated me so much.

    The least hideous picture I have. Keats' House. Nothing like the reality of the place at all.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    No picnic

    by goodfish Updated May 15, 2013

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    This nod to Spain in the capital city of Italy is traced to the 1700's when the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See had his embassy here. The square at that time was considered Spanish territory: wander into it unawares and you could find yourself an (unwilling) member of the Spanish military. The Spanish Steps? Not built by Spain. The church you see at the top (Trinita dei Monti) was founded by the French in the 1495, and funding from France built the 138 steps to connect the church with the piazza in 1723-25. Here also is the house where poet John Keats died, and a fountain (Fontana Della Baraccia) attributed to either the elder or younger Bernini.

    There's a law about not eating on the steps. As that's mentioned in every single guidebook I've seen it must be a real bee in someone's bonnet: not a place to bring your panini. Combine a walk-through with visits to Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese, Quirinale and Trevi Fountain as they're all roughly in the same area. And while this thing seems to be on every single tourist's must-do list, it's really no more than a stop en route to more interesting places. Do drop into the church if you have time and the energy to haul your fanny up all those steps.

    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/beni-culturali/beni-architettonici-e-storici/piazza-di-spagna.html

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  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo

    The famous Spanish steps

    by GentleSpirit Updated Feb 27, 2013

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    You always hear about the Spanish steps, the reality is that there isn't much to do there except hang out. The Spanish steps are supposed to be the widest set of stairs in Europe? I really didn't notice their width while I was there, there were just too many people.

    Anyway, at the bottom is the Piazza di Spagna (Spain plaza) and at the top is the Trinita dei Monte church and piazza. The French had the stairs constructed. The church at the top was a French church and the piazza at the bottom got its name because the Spanish embassy to the Vatican was nearby.

    In the Piazza di Spagna is a Bernini fountain, that to be honest looks really strange. Its called " La Fontana della Barcaccia", it looks like a half sinking boat. After some of the other Bernini sculptures you will see in Rome this was sort of a disappointment.

    Right by the Spanish steps you will find tons of outrageously expensive designer stores. There were some decent restaurants nearby. Note however, the tea house at the foot of the stairs, lets just say 9 euro for a regular cup of tea should be considered criminal. There will also be the guys dressed up at centurions parading around. Remember, however, that if you want to take a picture of them make sure its from a distance because they expect to be paid.

    photo note- if you go to the top of the stairs and along the walkway there you can catch some nice pictures of the Roman skyline.

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  • anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo

    05-Crowning Glory-Chiesa Trinità dei Monti

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Aug 30, 2012

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    The Trinità dei Monti towers over the Spanish Steps and completes the head portion of the butterfly pattern formed by the Spanish Steps. It’s full name is Santissima Trinità al Monte Pinco (Most Holy Trinity at Monte Pincio).

    There are two clocks in the facade of the Church - one show the time of Rome, the other of Paris. Also, French is used to celebrate Mass, possibly because funds for the Spanish Steps came from France.

    Earlier, a very small chapel existed on this hill. It was only in 1495 that a new church was commissioned by King Louis XII to celebrate his victory at Naples. Construction began in 1502 but the church was consecrated only in 1585. In the 16th C, two bell towers were added, designed by Giacomo Della Porta and Domenico Fontana. In 1788, the obelisk (Obelisco Sallustiano) in front of the church was erected, its hieroglyphs copied from the one at Piazza del Popolo.

    The interior of the Church was done by Daniele da Volterra, a student of Michelangelo. Inside the church, one gets to see Giambattista Naldini's paintings of the Christ's Baptism and other scenes of John the Baptist. The Assumption of the Virgin, Daniele da Volterra, is remarkable. Near the high altar is Cesare Nebbia's painting of the Crucifixion.

    The view from this vantage point is superb. If steep steps are abhorrent to you, use the lift from Spagna metro station.

    First Written: Aug. 31, 2012

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    04-Spanish Steps 138

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Aug 29, 2012

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    A 10-minutes’ walk brings you to the Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Spagna) from the Trevi Fountain. There are plenty of signages placed strategically along the way. Once there, a huge flight of stairs, almost like a butterfly ready to take off, greets you with a fountain at the bottom and the towering presence of a Church at the top. Tourists sit all over the steps, striking poses while waiting to be clicked. Others are lazily soaking up the sun or generally ‘people watching’. You take their cue, find some space, plonk yourself and watch the street sellers and caricature artists ply their trade below in the square. Located at the base of the steps, on the right-hand side, is the house of the English poets, John Keats & P.B. Shelley. It is now a museum.

    There is nothing ‘Spanish’ about the 138-odd steps that lead up to the Church. It is a mundane means of transporting oneself from a lower level to a higher level and there are no escalators or differently-abled ramps to help you on your way up. Designed by Francesco de Sanctis, it was built between 1723-1726, to scale the Pincian hill and lead the pious from the bottom, which houses the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat), to the top where the French Church, Trinita dei Monti, built in 1502, stands. Mercifully, the rise of the steps is low, a comfortable 8 inches, so you can easily negotiate your way up. Besides, the steps are broken by 15 wide platforms which allow you to catch your breath and rest your weary limbs. It is also one of the longest and widest staircases in all of Europe. During May, almost the entire staircase is covered with pots of azaleas.

    The fountain, in the form of a boat, is symbolic of the boat that rescued people and their possessions, during the devastating flood of 1588 when the River Tiber spilled over. It was built by Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo in 1598. The relief work of the sun and of the bee on the boat is a symbol of the Barberini family and of Pope Urban VIII. For a drink at the fountain or to fill up your water bottle, you need to bend rather low, almost to the level of the road. This was Bernini’s answer to the low pressure of the incoming water. The square around the Fountain is called Piazza di Spagna after the residence of the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See in this area; hence the name of the place. The piazza is home to the prestigious boutiques of Gucci, Prada and Valentino making it a good starting point for your shopping.

    First Written: Aug. 30, 2012

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