7 Facts about the Spanish Steps
7 Facts about the Spanish StepsWith its irregular butterfly design, the beautiful “Scalina Spagna”, or Spanish Steps are just one of these must see places when in Rome and a great example of Roman Baroque Style. It’s a great place to just sit down and enjoy the atmosphere and views of the Eternal City. The steps are a wide irregular gathering place consisted of 138 steps placed in a mix of curves, straight flights, vistas and terraces. They connect the lower Piazza di Spagna with the upper piazza Trinita dei Monti, with its beautiful twin tower church dominating the skyline.
7 facts about the Spanish Steps:
1 The Spanish steps were built in 1723-1725 by a design of the rather little known architect Francesco de Sanctis and were financed by French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed. It was built in order to link the the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the king of France, with the Spanish square below. The long, triangular Spanish square is named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See. In the 17th century, the area around the embassy was even considered Spanish territory. The idea of connecting the church with the square below originates from the 17th century, when the French also planned a statue of King Louis XIV of France at the top of the staircase. This plan was never executed, due to the refusal of the Pope.
2 The Spanish steps unique design and elegance has made it a popular place for artists, painters and poets who were attracted to the place which inspired them in return. The artist’s presence attracted many beautiful women to the area, hoping to taken as models. This in turn, attracted rich Romans and travelers. After a short time, the steps were crowded with people of all kinds of backgrounds. This tradition, of the Spanish Steps as a meeting place, has lived on ever since.
3 At the lower end of the stairs you can find an early baroque fountain called Fontana della Barcaccia, or “Fountain of the Old Boat”. It is credited Pietro Bernini; a member of the renowned artist family Bernini and father of famous Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The fountain has the form of a sinking ship and it is said to be based upon a folk legend. The legend tells that a fishing boat was carried all the way to this exact spot during a massive flood of the Tiber River in the 16th century. The design with the sinking boat also helped Bernini to overcome a technical problem, due to low water pressure.
4 On the 13th June, 2007, a drunken young man attempted to drive a Toyota Celica down the Spanish Steps. Luckily no one was hurt, but several of the 200-year-old steps were chipped and scuffed. The driver was arrested.
5 At the corner on the right as one begins to climb the steps, is the house where English poet John Keats lived and died in 1821; it is now a museum dedicated to his memory, full of memorabilia of the English Romantic generation.
6 On the 20th March, 1986, the first McDonalds restaurant in Italy was opened near the Spanish Steps. Protests there against fast food led to Carlo Petrini founding the international Slow Food movement three years later.