The Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Spagna in Italian) in Rome were built between the years 1723 and 1725. The steps were designed by the architect Francesco De Sanctis and commissioned by Pope Benedict XIII, who wanted to connect the Piazza di Spagna (“Spanish Square”) to the Church of Trinita dei Monti.
Spanish Steps Rome
History and description
Before the steps were built, the church and the square below it were only connected through two, tree-lined and very steep paths.
The architectural style is baroque. The number of steps is 138, the number of ramps 12. What might not be immediately obvious is that the Steps are built in such a way that every part of them can be seen from any angle. This was commissioned by the French priests in the Trinità dei Monti Church, who had noticed that “lewd acts” regularly took place on the steps.
Since the original intention of the architect was to not just connect the church and the square, but also to create a meeting place, there are several terraces between the various ramps.
Another one of De Santis‘ ideas, the placement of long rows of alternating trees and sculptures on each side of the steps, was never realized.
Over the years the Spanish Steps have become one of the most romantic attractions of Rome and a favorite background for Roman couples’ wedding photographs. In the afternoons and evenings, hundreds of young people gather here to meet and drink wine (which is not allowed anymore, but, like many laws in Italy, this is not always enforced).
For many people the first view of the Spanish Steps is a bit of a delusion, since the postcards always show the spring version, when the staircase is decorated with huge pots of pink azaleas. During most of the year, however, the only adornment to the steps is the huge, but equally colorful, crowd of people.
Once a year, in the summer, the Spanish Steps function as a catwalk, when the annual fashion show is held here.