7 things to know about Spanish Square


    Romantic runway of the 1800s in Rome, Spanish Square or Piazza di Spagna, has initially gained its commercial fame around the 15th century, thanks to the many hotels and homes of many foreigners, attracted by the area thanks to the presence of the Spanish and the French Embassies.

    Spanish square, is one of the most important Catwalks in Rome, a place full of history and traditions. As if the Fountain of the Barcaccia, the Trinità dei Monti and the in vogue street of Via dei Condotti wasn’t enough, Spanish Square is custodian of tons of curiosities.
    Here are the 7 things you need to know about the Spanish Square in Rome.

    7 curiosities about Spanish Square

    1. The Square’s 2 Names
      Around half of the 17th century, this square had two names, due to France and Spain’s delegations housed in the buildings surrounding the square. The Northern section of this square, where the French Embassy was located, was called Piazza di Francia. While the southern section Piazza di Spagna, because of the Spanish Delegation hosted by the Holy Office of the Papal State.So Piazza di Francia or Piazza di Spagna? Two countries in the Roman square that faced each other in a symbolic rivalry for the official title, visible in the decor they both contributed to in the Piazza throughout the centuries. Since the Embassy of France moved its Estate, Spain was the winning contendent in 1647, giving the square its official name.
    2. Rival artists
      The rivalries didn’t just evolve around France and Spain. In fact there was a another famous rivalry concerning two big personalities in the baroque architectures of Rome, who also contributed to the creation of the beautiful Piazza di Spagna we all know and love today, the great Bernini and Borromini. They both lived here in the Spanish Steps, but the term “love thy neighbor” sure didn’t apply to them. In fact, even though their diatribes were mostly known through their Art work, like the four Rivers fountain and adjacent basilica in Piazza Navona, it is said that they continued to zing each other even during their spare time, while they were both at home.Since they lived one in front of the other, they would sculpt and create “artful” additions to their homes’ front windows or balconies. For instance, Borromini decorated his front windows with donkey years, pointing towards his arch rival’s house. While Bernini, who didn’t shy away from banter or confrontation, went a different way: he sculpted a giant phallus and placed on his balcony overlooking the Spanish Steps.Even though this some what hilarious rivalry has left us a vast amount of breathtaking masterpieces by the two, the city decided to remove the goliardic provocations from Spanish Steps, due to indecency.
    3. Red Lights on the square
      Another spicy curiosity about this square, one of the most visited and most beautiful places in Rome, is that it used to be a pivot of illicit conduct, specifically prostitution.But why the Spanish square?
      It all began after 1527 and the Sack of Rome, when the city was starting to rise up again, thanks to the Catholic European ally forces. Being the Spanish square a long street, easily reachable from North in Porta del Popolo, it was the ideal place for visitors and horsemen to find any kind of restoration, no pun intended. Hard to believe it, if you look at it today. All noble and renascimental. Goes to show: you should never judge a book by its cover.
    4. The Church of Trinità dei Monti
      At the top of the famous Stairs, on the Spanish Steps, is the famous church of Trinità dei Monti, built with stone from the French city Narbonne.Trinità dei Monti means Trinity of the Hills, in honor, they say, of the hill called Pincio, that rises from the Spanish square. The Pincio and its park also rises where there once were the Horti of Lucullo, a magnificent botanical garden of the Roman Empire, filled with plants trees of every variety. Adjacent to which was the most beautiful Roman Villas of all, perhaps, the Villa of Lucullo. Ontop of which the Church of Trinità dei Monti is built today.
      Even though the Church is French, the soil on which is built is more Roman than anywhere in the Nation.During your Rome tour, if you are in the Spanish Square area, we highly recommend a visit. This church is absolutely beautiful and the views are simply breathtaking.
    5. The little Red House
      This house in the Spanish square is the Keats-Shelley Memorail House. It hosts a beautiful museum and a library open to public.This building in the general hub of the Square, might seem an ordinary building part of the beautiful, colorful atmosphere. But it is the place where the English poet Keats spent his last moments in life. Its called the Little Red House, la Casina Rossa because of its distinctive color, very picturesque. You can find it at the feet of the Spanish steps on the Right side of the stairs of Trinità dei Monti.On the other side, the left side of the stairs, is the twin building which houses the famous tea room Babington’s, created from the idea of two wealthy English women. This Tea Room was the central hub for political, artistic, intellectual and literary encounters. It is today a very traditional part of the Spanish Steps.If you are interested in English literature and poetry, you can consider to integrate this places in the Spanish square, during your Rome tour. A stop at the little Red house and then off to an afternoon tea in one of the most creative halls in Rome.
    6. The Stair case
      Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna
      One of the Spanish square’s superstars is certainly its stair case. Which has nothing to do with Spain, ironically. It was created to connect the Spanish neighborhood with its Embassy’s territory, however it was entirely created and ordered by the French jurisdiction, being the owners of Trinità dei Monti.
      The Roman Architect that took the project in hand created a marvelous baroque stair case, that widens on the sides and narrows in the center, going up, before two separate sets of stairs reach the very top vista, infront of the obelisk placed at the feet of the Church of Trinità dei Monti.This peculiar geometrical effect resembles the wings of a butterfly, which makes this Square all the more magnificent. It was finished in 1725 and since then it has attracted thousands of visitors each day, hosting events, fashion runways and moviesets.
    7. The fireman’s column
      The Pillar of the Immaculate Conception is a gigantic column, 11 meters tall, beautifully decorated with reliefs all the way to the top, where a bronze statue from the 19th Century of the Virgin Mary stands overlooking the entire neighborhood of the Spanish Steps, her arms wide open.The locals call it the Fireman’s column, because of an ancient tradition. It was donated by an army of firemen, to the City, on December 25th 1856, to honor the Virgin Mary.
      To this day, the Roman Fire Brigade, holds a ceremony every year, on the day of the Immaculate Conception, December 8. A religious ceremony overseen by the Pope himself at the presence of tourists, Cardinals, pilgrims, politicians and Government representatives.
      After the ceremony the fire brigades salute the Virgin Mary, they hop on a fire ladder to reach the top of the Pillar and place a wreath of beautiful white flowers blessed by the Pope, to lay in the statue’s hands.If you are in Rome the first week of December, you should definitely stop to join this beautiful tradition. The column is impossible to miss. You will find it in Piazza Mignanelli, immediately before you enter the Spanish Steps.This square serves as a connection. With ancient times, traditions, cultures, art and literature and even with the world’s Nation!During your Rome tour, keep these seven things in mind. They are just some of the things you’ll discover about the Spanish square.

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