Spanish Steps and Spanish Square

Spanish Steps and Spanish Square

Spanish Steps or in Italian Piazza di Spagna is one of the most well-known city squares in Rome which was named after the palace that hosted the embassy of Spain to the Holly Chair.  On this square there are three cultural monuments, all of which deserve closer attention.

The first monument on the Spanish Square is the column of the Immaculate Conception. It was designed by Luigi Poletti and was officially inaugurated on December 8th, 1857. This column is dedicated to the dogma of Immaculate Conception, sustained by Pope Pius IX, according to which Madonna was the only woman that conceived a child without a sin.
Marble column, on which the statue is placed, is 12 meters high while the bronze statue on the top represents Madonna. On the column itself there are 4 statues that represent Moses, David, Isaac and Ezekiel. However, the column itself is much older than the monument, it originates from the period of ancient Rome and was discovered during the excavations in the Field of Mars.

Fountain Barcaccia (an ugly boat) represents yet another cultural monument of the Spanish Square and it is located at the base of the steps. This fountain was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII while it was designed by two famous architects Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (father and son). This fountain has a characteristic shape of a sinking ship, because it is believed that a ship that served as a model was stranded right on this spot during the one of the typical flooding of the River Tiber in the 16th century. You will also notice decorations of the Sun and bees on the fountain, typical motifs of the famous papal family Barberini.

The third monument worth mentioning is the world-famous Spanish Steps, commissioned and constructed during the mandate of Pope Benedict XIII, while inaugurated during the mandate of Innocent XIII. The purpose of these magnificent steps was to connect Spanish Embassy to the church Trinita dei Monti. Once, these two building were completely separated due to the very noticeable difference in height of the terrain on which they were built. The architect in charge, Francesco de Sanctis, believed that these steps should not be just a simple passage, but rather a place of gathering. For this reason, today tourists can enjoy beautiful terraces which are constantly crowded with tourists and locals as well. The original plan also envisioned rows of trees on both sides of the steps as well as numerous decorations and sculptures, which was unfortunately never carried out.

Interesting facts

  • Each year on December 8th, a celebration of sinless conception is organized on this square, during which a team of firefighters puts a wreath of flowers on the column while Pope blesses the crowed.
  • Also, each year fashion shows are organized, when the square is additionally decorated with flowers.
Photo by Jorgen Hendriksen on Unsplash

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