Tuesday, January 7, 2020


Piazza di Spagna

1723/26 Francesco De Sanctis (1693/1740) for Innocent XIII Conti (1721/24) and for the French King Louis XV (king from 1715 until 1774) who financed the project

It was obviously inspired from the now disappeared Port of Ripetta designed in 1705 by the brilliant Alessandro Specchi

“It replicates the main theme of the Port of Ripetta, but doubling it and complicating it. A scheme less concise and simple than that of Specchi, but that complies the natural slope with the undulating rhythm of the profile and calls for a peaceful stroll, never monotonous” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

At the base reliefs with the French lilies of King Louis XV and eagles of Pope Innocent XIII

136 steps divided into eleven dozen plus four and into three parts to evoke the Trinity and celebrate the peace between the crowns of Spain and France

It corresponds to the main body with the steps of the Horti Luculliani, the gardens of Lucullus, the villa built by Lucullus immediately after the triumph over Mithridates celebrated in the year 63 BC, one of the grandest villas in Rome

The square is named after the Palazzo di Spagna (Palace of Spain), Spanish Embassy to the Holy See and in English the steps are known as Spanish Steps though, actually, it is a French staircase and should more properly be called French Steps

It is defined as cristianissima piazza (the most Christian square) for the shape that would remind the monogram of Christ and references to Christian worship: the Trinity Church, the Palace of the Propagation of the Faith, the Column of the Immaculate Conception and the Barcaccia (ugly boat) Fountain reminiscent of the ship of St. Peter
It was always a place for meetings and socializing, so much so that already in 1737 were forbidden the “scandalous dances between men and women” that took place here in the summer nights

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