Piazza di Spagna

Piazza di Spagna is one of Rome’s most beautiful squares and a favorite meeting place. It name is associated with the Spanish embassy still located there today. In the 17th century, even the territory around the embassy was considered Spanish land. Two nations – France and Spain – fought for dominance in this place for a long time, each of which left traces behind.

At the top of the Spanish Steps stands the Trinita dei Monti church, part of the French heritage. In 1483 the French king  was gravely ill. Pope Sixtus IV sent Francisco di Paola, a hermit from Calabria, famous for his miracles, to Paris to care for the king. Although he failed to heal the king, Francis won the sympathy of his son, the future Charles VIII. The latter purchased an extensive vineyard in Rome, where he founded a monastery, which he donated to the order of which Francisco di Paola was a member. In 1502 King Louis XII built the Trinita dei Monti church next to the monastery, which was intended for the French Catholics living in Rome. The obelisk that stands in front of the church was placed there at the request of Pope Pius VII. It originally stood in the gardens of the Roman politician Sallustius. Unlike most obelisks on the territory of Rome, this one was not brought from Egypt.

Desciption: Plaza España /picture source: Shutterstock/;

The symbol of Piazza di Spagna are the Spanish Steps. For about a century, French rulers and Roman popes debated how to make the church accessible from the center of Rome. Already in the 16th century, a project was presented that the French were ready to finance. However, they set one condition – that an equestrian statue of King Louis XIV be erected. This idea did not please the then Pope Alexander VII and the project was frozen. After the death of the French king in question, relations with France improved and a competition was organized to select a project. Architect Francisco de Sancti presented a project that satisfies both parties. The staircase was built between 1723 and 1726 and became a symbol of reconciliation between France and Spain, connecting the upper part of the square, which was under French influence, with the lower part, where the Spanish embassy was.

Description: the Barcaccia fountain /picture source: Shutterstock/;

At the base of the Spanish Steps is the Barcaccia (“ugly boat”) fountain. Its name comes from its shape – that of a sunken boat. Its construction was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII. The fountain itself was made by Pietro Bernini and his son. Its shape was not chosen by chance. Before the walls were built, the Tiber River often overflowed and flooded the city. This is exactly what happened in 1598. During this flood, Piazza di Spagna was under a meter of water. When the water receded, one boat remained in the square.

At the southeast end of the square stands the Column of the Immaculate Conception. They discovered it under the ruins of our monastery, later placed in its current place.

Address: Piazza Espagna;

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