Spain Square in Rome (Piazza di Spagna, in Italian) is one of the most intriguing places for tourists. Most of us, we´d visited Spain or not, know someone who has been in Rome and one site we have to visit is Spain Square. When you arrive there, you can see a fountain called Barge Fountain (in Italian, Fontana della Barcaccia). On the other side you have a staircase which drives you towards Trinità dei Monti Church.
Wherever you are, if you are in Rome, it is impossible to get lost on the way to Spain Square, because taking the underground you can get off on a stop called “Spagna”, obviously closed to the square.
There is another aspect which can arouse your curiosity: Why is one of the most emblematic places of Rome dedicated to Spain? Let’s see.
Spain Square History
The reason of the square’s name is that in this square is located the Spain Palace, headquarters of the Spanish Embassy in Vaticano and Malta Order. Malta Order is a religious catholic order established in Jerusalem in 1084 by the hand of traders who came from Amalfi. This city is situated in the South of Italy, in Salerno Bay, 75 km from Napoli.
Spain Palace, or Monaldeschi Palace, has been used as headquartes of embassy since 1647. Nowadays it is the most enduring embassy known.
After this historic introduction, let’s meet this square more exhaustively, but there are much more squares in Rome.
At the moment we arrive at the square, we stay opposite the fountain. This is situated in the middle of the square and it is a baroque sculpture which was sculpted by Pietro Bernini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a father and his son, who was one of the most notorious Italian baroque sculptor.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) worked as sculptor, architect and colourman but he exceled as sculptor. He often worked in Rome, city which is full of his works. He worked mainly in Rome, city that, nowadays, is full of his works. To the point, the Barcaza Fountain was built between 1627 and 1629.
If we look at the fountain, we realize this is oval. But it looks like a floating barge inside, reason of its name. The sculpture is inspired by a barge which got at that place during a river flood of Tiber, in 1598.
19th February of 2015, unfortunately, lots of Feyenoord fans threw objects through the fountain and hit it. They visited Rome because of a match between Feyenoord and AS Roma. According to local sources, caused damages could be irreparable. That is a shame, and it is worse when we realise that the fountain was repaired in 2014.
One of the typical pictures everyone likes to take is the church on top of the staircase of the spain square. I recommend you to have rested before going up stairs because it has 135 steps. Also, it is true that tourists do not mind to sit on stairs when we get tired, this is the cause why you will see lots of people sitting in.
This staircase was built at the turn of XVII century in order to communicate Trinità dei Monti Church with Spain Square. Square’s zone was Spanish, and the area where the church is was French. The staircase represents the peace between France and Spain, connecting they both. Nowadays Donne Sotto le Stelle, a fashion show, takes place there every July.
Just opposite the church, there is a obelisk, at the bottom of stairs. It is better known as Salustiano Obelisk. It was erected in XVIII century by Pope Pío VI and copies the old Egiptian obelisks. It has about 30 meters high.
Trinità dei Monti Church
Finally we arrive at Trinità dei Monti Church of spain square. We have already seen the two bell towers of the church. Turning around and getting away from the church to watch better the square pays off.
Trinità dei Monti Church was built in XVI century, in Baroque. The inside is clearly Gothic, with classic pointed arches. However, the outside is not like that due to the double tower bell, built afterwards.
When we get in, the first we perceive is that there is a unique hall. There is a grille two-thirds of the hall length. To the left and to the right of the grille there are seven chapels.
Each chapel has sculptures and frescos of different styles and epochs. Some of them are from the same time than the church. Different biblical scenes are represented in each chapel: The Asunción, the Grave, the Nativity, the Magicians Adoration, the Circumcision, the Ascension, the Prophets, the Virgin, between others.
One of the most famous chapels is the Deposition Chapel, which contains Daniele da Volterra’s frescos, the most important disciple of Michelangelo Buonarrotti. These frescos are considered one of the most prominent Mannerism masterpieces. It also is important to mention the Magdalena Chapel, decorated by two Raffaello Sanzio’s disciples.
The altairpiece, which replaces the original one, is from XIX century. As you see, Spain Square is a place worthy of visiting.