Written by: Artur Jakucewicz Rome Holiday Planning Expert
The Spanish Steps is an unusual architectural gimmick, considered one of Rome’s top attractions. The cascade of polished stone stairs majestically descends from the top of Pincian Hill right to the foot of Spanish Square (Italian: Piazza di Spagna).
This sightseeing is one of the unmatched architectural landmarks of Rome. Wide baroque steps attract thousands of visitors and serve as a leading source of inspiration to cinematographers and artists. In addition, modern fashion houses like Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari, and Dior prefer to place their boutiques within easy reach of this marvelous construction.
Test your knowledge of the Spanish Steps without looking at the answers to frequently asked questions.
Getting enough from contemplation of smooth travertine steps, travelers will learn more about the history of the place. However, the most interesting fact in the biography of this sightseeing is its name. “Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti” in English means “the stairway to the church of Trinita dei Monti.”
In fact, the mysterious Spaniard has a really ambiguous history based on the struggle of french and spanish spheres of interests on the territory of Italy. The titular church Trinita dei Monti, that towers on the Pincian Hill was constructed with the help of Louis 12 in the 16th century. It immediately became a stronghold for the french nationals who lived far away from their homeland. At the same time the Spanish Square at the foot of the Pincian Hill also played an extremly significant role for the Spaniards, while the spanish embassy was located there.
Despite being married to Maria Theresa of Austria and having close kinship with the Spanish monarchs, Louis 14 had strained relations with neighboring countries. Ultimately, French political leader Etien Geffie decided to alleviate the tension and fix the situation. In order to do so, he proposed constructing the stairway that would connect Trinita dei Monti church and Spanish Square.
It cost Geffie about twenty thousand scudi to bring to life such a symbolic idea in Rome.
The Spanish Steps should have become a grandiose and highly pretentious architectural complex concerning the initial plan. The only point at issue was an equestrian statue of Louis 14 on the top of the edifice. But the Roman government considered themselves insulted and put a veto on the construction project.
Only in 1717 the competition among the architects was declared, and the creative dyad of Alessandro Specchi and Francesco de Sanctis won the right to carry on the project. The works started in 1723. However, most of the time was spent on the pre-construction activities, such as forming the ground of the hill and underpinning the square.
For almost two years the group of builders and constructers worked their fingers to the bone to bring up 138 travertine steps.
As a result, the stairway got its wide central part framed by two narrower sections. There is a viewpoint where one can get by one of the half-moon side spans. Each stairway side is fenced with stone ledges designed in the Italian baroque style. At that time, the architects decided to decorate the stairway more modestly. They used the heraldic symbols of the Bourbons dynasty and the traditional images of the crown and eagle – the attributes of pontifical power.
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Here are 17 astounding facts about the Spanish Steps, a landmark in Rome that has captured the hearts and imaginations of locals and tourists alike for centuries. From its history to its cultural significance, here are a few facts to remember as you wander around this iconic destination:
Read also about the Holy Stairs in Rome.
From 1725 till 90-es of the 20th century, the Spanish Steps didn’t undergo any serious reconstructions. Dilapidated steps and time-eaten stones cankered by rain and dirt didn’t retain much romance. So the municipal government found the finance to renovate this heritage asset. And in 1997, revived and refreshed sightseeing regained the tourists’ list of Rome’s most famous landmarks. And again, vast flows of travelers were drawn to the most majestic and beautiful stairways in the whole of Europe.
Every year, when spring comes, the flowerpots with azaleas and petunias paint the stairway in pinkish and flamboyant colors. While in winter, the same wide steps become the stage for short Christmas plays. Moreover, Trinita dei Monti church is a very picturesque background to the Spanish Steps.
In addition to this, the church’s interior also deserves attention. One of the most famous exhibits is the sculpture “The Descent from the Cross,” performed by the apprentice of Michelangelo Daniela de Valtera.
A walk upwards will also uncover the travellers a magnificent view on the Spanish Square and adjacent streets. A building that is located at the foot of the stairs on the right is a house museum devoted to english romantic poets John Keats and Mary Shelley. Some say that young Keats exuberantly declared his poems to a successful woman and writer, Mary Shelley, walking along the stone steps of the famous architectural monument.
The Spanish Steps allow the visitors to overlook the Fountain of the Old Boat (Fontana della Barcaccia), the Spanish Square’s main decorative element. Pietro Bernini was a prominent sculptor who created the fountain at the beginning of the 17th century.
Read also about the Trevi Fountain.
A widely-known legend is that waters cast the fishing boat ashore once the Tiber River overflowed. It inspired the master and provided the basis for such a peculiar fountain composition.
No matter how lofty it may sound, the Spanish Steps in Rome even have their own filmography. In the movie “Roman Holidays,” delicate and refined Audrey Hepburn enjoyed an ice cream sitting here. Not to mention that many Italian films cannot do without Rome’s views and especially shots made from Pincho Hill.
Fashion shows, parties, and other incredible events of the high fashion industry organized by Valentino, Dolce&Gabanna, and other well-known designers can also be added to the long list of merits and credentials of this amazing and extraordinary beautiful sightseeing.
At night, the Spanish Steps in Rome take on a whole new level of beauty and charm. The steps are softly lit with a warm glow, casting long shadows over the intricate details of the Baroque architecture. The atmosphere is quiet and peaceful, with a romantic air that’s hard to resist. Walking up the steps at night, with the city spread out before you, is a truly magical experience.
Many visitors wonder if walking around the Spanish Steps at night is safe. While it’s always important to exercise caution when traveling in a foreign city, the Spanish Steps area is generally considered safe after dark. There are often police patrols in the area, and the presence of other tourists can also help to deter any potential trouble. That being said, it’s always wise to stay aware of your surroundings and take precautions to keep yourself and your belongings safe.
For those who want to enjoy the Spanish Steps without the crowds, a nighttime stroll is a great option. With fewer tourists around, you can really take your time to soak up the atmosphere and appreciate the beauty of the area. It’s also a great opportunity for some stunning photos of the steps and surrounding architecture.
If you’re an early riser, the dawn hours are another great time to visit the Spanish Steps. With the morning light just beginning to illuminate the area, you can enjoy the beauty of the steps in a quieter setting before the day’s crowds arrive. Whether you choose to visit at night or dawn, the Spanish Steps are a must-see attraction in Rome that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
Also, if you have jet lag or are looking for privacy, I recommend booking a night walking tour of Rome.
Staying near the Spanish Steps in Rome is a popular and highly recommended option, despite the high cost of approximately 500 euros per day. Due to their popularity, it’s best to make reservations at least six months in advance to secure your spot. The area surrounding the Spanish Steps offers a vibrant and fashionable side of Rome, with high-end shops, restaurants, and bars. The location also provides easy access to many of the city’s top attractions, including the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Vatican City. However, the area can be busy and crowded, especially during summer. Despite this, several luxury hotels offer a comfortable and convenient stay in the heart of the city. Here are my top 3 personal picks for hotels near the Spanish Steps in Rome:
Nestled at the top of the Spanish Steps, Hassler Roma is one of Rome’s most luxurious and iconic hotels.
With its breathtaking views of the city, Michelin-starred dining, and wellness facilities, Hassler Roma offers guests an indulgent and unforgettable stay in the heart of Rome. The hotel’s classic decor and impeccable service make it a popular choice for those seeking an elegant and sophisticated experience, while its convenient location makes it an ideal base for exploring the city’s many attractions. Reviews consistently praise the hotel’s stunning views, elegant decor, and exceptional service, making it a top pick for those seeking the ultimate in luxury and relaxation in Rome.
Hotel Scalinata Di Spagna is a luxurious property located at the top of the Spanish Steps, offering stunning views of Rome’s historic landmarks. The hotel features a covered rooftop terrace, free Wi-Fi, and rooms with a free minibar and daily turndown service. Guests can enjoy an extensive breakfast buffet on the partially covered terrace, which includes fresh fruit, cold cuts, cheese, and a coffee maker with a grinder available all day.
The location is a major highlight, with proximity to popular attractions such as the Trevi Fountain and Via dei Condotti, a well-known shopping street. The hotel staff provides attentive and personalized service, with a concierge available to offer information and suggestions to make guests’ stays truly pleasant.
Guests consistently praise the hotel’s location and amenities, with the terrace and breakfast buffet receiving high marks. The cozy and well-maintained interiors create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, making Hotel Scalinata Di Spagna a top pick for those seeking a luxurious and comfortable stay in the heart of Rome.
Fellini Design Suites offers modern and stylish luxury apartments on Piazza di Spagna, just steps away from Via dei Condotti and a short walk from Rome’s most famous landmarks, including the Trevi Fountain and Piazza del Popolo.
The apartments feature private bathrooms and free Wi-Fi, and guests can access a shared lounge area and currency exchange services. The location is a major highlight, with stunning views of Piazza di Spagna and close proximity to the beautiful Villa Borghese Park. Guests praise the attentive and helpful hosts, as well as the nearby restaurants, cafes, and bars, making Fellini Design Suites a top choice for those seeking an upscale and convenient stay in Rome.
See also our expert selection of the best hotels near Piazza del Popolo.
The Spanish Steps are located in the heart of Rome and are easily accessible by public transportation. The closest metro stop is the Spagna station, which is on Line A of the Rome metro. From there, it’s just a short walk to the steps. You can also take bus N119, which stops at a street named Via Due Macelli. If you prefer to walk, the Spanish Steps are within easy walking distance of many of Rome’s other top attractions, including the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. Whether traveling by metro, bus, or on foot, getting to the Spanish Steps is easy and convenient, making it a must-see destination for anyone visiting Rome.
The scene in “Roman Holiday” featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on the Spanish Steps is one of the most famous moments in the history of cinema. The scene takes place near the beginning of the film, after Princess Ann (Hepburn) escapes from her royal duties and falls asleep on a bench.
Joe Bradley (Peck), an American journalist, finds her and takes her back to his apartment to rest. The next morning, Joe takes Ann out to see the sights of Rome, including the Spanish Steps.
As they sit on the steps, enjoying gelato and conversation, they attract the attention of a group of street performers, and a crowd gathers around them. Joe pretends not to recognize Ann, who is incognito, and the two continue their day together, exploring the city and falling in love.
The scene on the Spanish Steps has become an iconic moment in cinema history, symbolizing the carefree spirit of the film and the romanticism of Rome. The steps have since become a popular tourist destination, and visitors can often reenact the scene or take photos on the very spot where Hepburn and Peck sat.
The Spanish Steps have been the backdrop for countless films over the years, making them one of the most famous locations in all of cinema. From classic Hollywood movies to contemporary blockbusters, the steps have played a starring role in many beloved films. Whether you’re a movie buff or just a casual film fan, you’ll surely recognize these iconic Spanish Steps movie scenes. Here is a list of the 10 most famous movies and scenes filmed near the Spanish Steps:
Suppose you’ve been intrigued by the Spanish Steps’ illustrious history and Rome’s iconic landmarks. In that case, the “Rome: Guided City Center Evening Sightseeing Walking Tour” is tailor-made for you. The tour price is only 39 euros; this 3-hour immersive experience promises an educational escapade and an aesthetic treat.
You’ll embark on your journey from the magnificent Piazza del Popolo, where the confluence of art, history, and architecture is nothing short of mesmerizing. As you ascend the Pincio Terrace, prepare to be enchanted by a view of the sun casting its golden hues over Rome’s skyline.
With Bernini’s Barcaccia Fountain at its base, the Spanish Steps isn’t just a site; it’s a story waiting to be told. And as you make your way to the Trevi Fountain, don’t forget to toss a coin; legends say it ensures your return to this timeless city.
Witness the grandeur of the Pantheon, a testament to Roman ingenuity and, later, a sanctum of Renaissance maestros. With Bernini’s masterpiece and surrounding architectural marvels, Piazza Navona is like stepping into a living painting.
Conclude at Campo de Fiori, a tapestry of Rome’s past and present. From its erstwhile reputation of races and solemn events to today’s bustling marketplace and vibrant nightlife, it offers a fitting endnote to your expedition.
Given its immense popularity among tourists and boasting over 1,000 glowing reviews, booking this tour at least 2 weeks in advance is advisable to secure your spot. As the day’s heat ebbs and the golden hour approaches, there’s no better way to acquaint yourself with the heartbeat of Rome. Embrace the city’s past, revel in its present, and make memories for a lifetime. If this tour is already completely booked on the desired dates, this excursion may be a worthy alternative.
Author: Artur Jakucewicz Rome Holiday Planning Expert
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