Spagna square is one of the most famous squares in the world: 135 steps where to meet everyday different stories, from fashion to music
Spagna square in Rome means elegance, worldliness, culture and it is one of the most famous in the world, appreciated for its scenic power, often hosting famous events, such as high fashion runway shows.
According to a 1500s map, Spagna square was a widening surrounded by vineyards, with some remains of Romans and a few buildings, two of whom today host the Spanish Embassy. A section of the square was called “the French”, where some horses and coaches stopped after having crossed Popolo square door.
Roman citizens particularly love this square, gaining its name by the building hosting the Embassy of the same country at the Holy See, since 1647.
It can be considered a sort of citizens’ parlor, with its elongated shape, a triangle in whose centre there are the most beautiful stairs in the world: Trinità dei Monti’s.
It was largely discussed how to set the area under the church you can see on the top. At the end, Francesco De Santis and his partner Alessandro Specchi’s project was the mostly appreciated one.
The stairs are made of 135 steps, with some panoramic widenings decorated by flowers you can admire during their spring colours explosion.
The stairs start with two side flights from a top big square (in the backstage) joining in an astonishing central one.
From the top of the terrace you can have a breathtaking sight on the square, while many street artists work on their canvas, to reproduce also the people who accept to be painted in a funny way.
Its peculiar elegance enchants the visitors for its monumentality but also for its architectural solution studied to connect the Santissima Trinità dei Monti Church to the Vatican Embassy.
The stairs were inaugurated in 1725, holy year, by Pope Benedict XIII and it nowadays is a benchmark for Romans and tourists that can’t miss it during their stay in the eternal city.
There’s a sort of metropolitan legend about the 135 steeps, saying the stairs are the meeting point of people looking for love.
An unmistakable signal that a man or a woman is ready to fall in love is to sit on the stairs and wait for a while. According to tradition, who receives the message should accept the invitation and take a sit next to that person, starting a lovely conversation to know each other.
Actually, every day hundreds of people sit on the stairs of Trinità dei Monti, maybe without knowing this very famous tradition.
Fashion and glamour on Spagna square stairs
If during the day it is the favorite place to have a sit and admire so much beauty, during the night it gets magic and a fascinating and romantic place.
This monumental stairs inspired many artists and stylists in making their glamour runway shows, under Rome sky, in the most famous square in the world.
It got its highest fame during 1990s and 2000s, hosting the most exciting runway shows, when the steps terrified even super top models such as Naomi Campbell, Claudia Shiffer and Carla Bruni.
Some of them fell down, because of the sliding steps, damaged by the numerous tourists going up and down them every day.
However, the high Roman and world fashion runway shows couldn’t renounce to a so strong media location, broadcast on TV, in order to let even who was not in Rome dream on that fantastic dresses and spectacular beauty of the models.
The last restyling of the stairs took place in 1995, thank to a very famous fashion brand contribution.
Trinità dei Monti stairs, in the world
Trinità dei Monti stairs are famous all over the world, not only for its runway shows, but also because it has always been the perfect location for the Italian and foreign cinema.
Nobody can forget the movie “Vacanze Romane”, played by Audrey Hepburn in 1953, an ode to the Roman dolce vita of the time and to the magic of Rome, making everybody falling in love with her.
There are also many shows there, especially theatre shows, thank to the close Salone Margherita, famous meeting point of comic men and actors, playing their shows in the heart of the city. Recently, it has hosted flash mobs and military exhibitions, such as the navy’s. At the end of the stairs, there is another beautiful symbol of the square: the Barcaccia Fountain.
The Barcaccia Fountain in Spagna square
Pietro Bernini was the inventor of the Barcaccia Fountain, father of his famous son Gianlorenzo, who literally exalted the beauty of the Baroque Rome.
The fountain was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and then made in 1629.
The shape of a boat remembers the love-hate relation the city has with the river Tiber, that regularly used to overflow on the streets, as today it happens too.
The subject related to fishing and to the transfers by the Roman river and it wanted to remember the historical flood in 1598, when water went 4 metres over the street level.
You can see it by the indicator situated in San Rocco square, you can see on the church wall. This is the official story, but there is also a legend connected to it, telling that Pietro Bernini had to face problems because the water level was too low.
More than the “technical” problem, he also had to find a subject suitable for the buyer idea of commemorating the flood. Probably, there was a boat, brought there by the Tiber flood.
Pietro Bernini, helped by the young Gianlorenzo, had a great idea and made the fountain partially underground, immersed in the water, and it couldn’t be anything else!
The evocative meaning of the fountain is still astonishing, not only because it was an original idea, but also because of the limpid water and the light material, making it a luminous point reflecting the beauty of the stairs and the upstanding church.
Spagna square obelisk
One of the most famous Roman traditions, famous worldwide is the homage the Pope pays to the Holy Mary on a 30 metres tall column, every 8th December.
According to the tradition, the firemen put a flower gift on the column in the Virgin hands.
The statue was put on the side of the square, in front of the embassy of the Spanish Holy See, about 3 years after the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pio IX. The column was erected on the 8th December 1857 in front of the Pope and the whole cardinal council.
The bronze and brass statue was made by the sculptor Luigi Poletti, who apparently used his mother-in-law as a model. At the basis of the column, there is a rich pedestal of statues representing four important characters of the Church (Ezekiel, Moses, David and Isaiah) and some religious low reliefs.
The traditional pilgrimage started only in 1958, to offer a pray and to ask the Virgin to protect Rome and the whole world, in front of some important civil and military personalities of the City of Rome.
The streets around Spagna square
Spagna square is surrounded by some historical Roman streets, especially concerning fashion, shopping and culture indeed. In front of the square and of the Barcaccia Fountain, you can’t miss to visit all the shops of the most famous brands in via dei Condotti or via Frattina, rich in high fashion shop windows. The most romantic and typical street is via Margutta, where to walk among hidden bars and the quite atmosphere in the city centre.
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