So you are planning a 2-week Italy itinerary and spending some 4 days in Rome. So huge and eternal that picking what not to miss in your first trip is overwhelming. Yet, there are some places that you will visit even if you don’t plan it. The Spanish Steps is one of these landmarks. Central, famous, the typical postcard place you will end up visiting for sure.
Surrounded by landmarks and strategically located close to many other Rome attractions, the Spanish Steps and nearby Piazza di Spagna are a must for anyone who’s exploring the city for the first time. Keep on reading to find out what is all the fuss about, what to do around the Spanish and some tips on how to enjoy your visit.
Rome Spanish Steps facts – Table of Contents
- What are Rome’s Spanish Steps?
- Spanish Steps fun facts and history
- What to do near the Spanish Steps
- How to enjoy your visit to the Spanish Steps
- How to reach the Spanish Steps
What are the Spanish Steps in Rome?
Built between 1723 and 1726 from a project of Roman architect Francesco De Sanctis, the stairwell is actually called Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti and the square at the bottom is Piazza di Spagna, “Spanish Square”. This impressive staircase is the connection between the slopes of the Pincio hill with Piazza di Spagna. On top of the stairs is the Trinità dei Monti church, one of the five French Catholic churches in Rome.
The project to build the Spanish Steps was initially funded with a donation from the French Etienne Gueffier in 1660. One of the projects came from the workshop of the great Italian architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and even though it was realized only years later, their project proved to be essential for its suggestion of how to build the walls and the ramps.
Spanish Steps fun facts and history
- The steps of Rome’s most famous stairwell are 136
- The purpose of the Spanish Steps was to connect the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Trinità dei Monti church.
- Trinità dei Monti church on top of the steps is one of the five francophone churches in Rome.
- The project to build the Spanish Steps was funded in 1660 but the masterpiece wasn’t completed until 1726.
- English poet John Keats spent his last months in the building on the right corner of the stairwell at the number 26 of Piazza di Spagna.
- On the left corner of the Spanish Steps is the historical Babington’s Tea Rooms founded in 1893.
What is to see near the Spanish Steps?
One of the top sights to visit in Rome, in the less busy seasons, you might find some quiet moments to enjoy the Spanish Steps around lunchtime. But the best time to visit is certainly early morning before the crowds start flocking.
Recently, the local Council has banned sitting on the Spanish Steps. I welcomed this decision as too many people mistakenly confused an important historical landmark with a cluster of benches where to eat, drink and relax. Now, we can finally admire the architectural majesty of this construction. Its typical Baroque architecture makes its scenic effects increase the closer you get thanks to an interplay of perspectives and backgrounds.
Some of the landmarks to visit near the Spanish Steps are:
- La Barcaccia Fountain. The marble boat located at the bottom of the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna. It’s a work of the Italian artist and architect Pietro Bernini, father of the more famous Gian Lorenzo, who also helped him in the construction.
- John Keats’ House. The English poet used to live in a house on the right side of the Spanish Steps when he was in Rome. Now that it has been turned into a museum, his house is open to the public.
- Trinità dei Monti church. The beautiful Renaissance-style church on top of the Spanish Steps can be visited daily except on Monday and when there are the functions. For more info on timetables and guided visited, check out their official website.
- Villa Borghese. One of Rome’s largest parks, it’s easy to reach both from the top climbing the Spanish Steps or from Piazza di Spagna metro station following the sign.
- Via dei Condotti. Probably one of the most famous shopping streets in Rome, here you will find popular and expensive boutique designers such as Dolce&Gabbana, Gucci, Dior, Prada, Alberta Ferretti and more.
- Via del Corso. Another famous and very long shopping street in Rome running from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia.
- Fontana di Trevi. With less than 10 minutes walk you can get to the famous Baroque Trevi Fountain.
How to enjoy your visit to the Spanish Steps
While it’s pretty hard to find a quiet spot in the eternal city, there are some tricks you can follow to enjoy also the busiest attractions, such as the Spanish Steps. Here are some suggestions to better enjoy your visit to this historical Rome landmark:
- Go early morning. If you manage to get there early morning, easier if you are staying in the surroundings, you can enjoy a privileged view in the silence, before the crowds and with beautiful dim light. Perfect if you want to take postcard pictures.
- Go in the night. While it might not be as quiet as in the morning, the night lighting of the city of Rome always gives a romantic aura to its historical sights.
- Go in Spring. I know, it depends on when you have your holiday, but usually in Spring the local council makes the Spanish Steps even more beautiful embellishing it with colourful flowers.
- Avoid July and August. If you don’t want to literally soak in the crowd, that is.
- Climb it up. It’s not that hard, but if you climb up the Spanish Steps you will see them from a different perspective, you will be able to better admire Piazza di Spagna and you can also visit Trinità dei Monti church on top.
How to get to the Spanish Steps
Reaching the Spanish Steps is pretty easy. You can easily reach by metro, line A, Piazza di Spagna station, and from there it’s really minutes of walk to the square at the bottom of the steps.
If you prefer to arrive from the top, bus 119 reaches near Piazza della Trinità dei Monti. Also, from the metro station, you can follow the sign towards Villa Borghese and the escalator or lift will take on top of the Spanish Steps.
READ MORE: You are not sure where to eat in Rome? Check out our guide to the best Rome restaurants!
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