ART & ARCHITECTURE – SPANISH STEPS
Piazza di Spagna is among the most striking sights of Rome, not least for the famous Spanish Steps, still a meeting place by day and night for both native Romans and visitors to the city. This monumental stairway, in three sections begins with a broad ascent of three flight of steps, followed in the central section by further flights curving in and out, and leading to the broad ascent to the Church of SS. Trintà dei Monti at the top.
The building of the Spanish Steps, to a design from the architect Francesco de Sanctis that was realized in 1723-1726, was financed by the French ambassador, Etienne Gueffier. The church of the Trinity, dominating the Spanish Steps with the double towers of his façade was founded by King Charles VIII of France. Building began in 1502, and the church was finished in 1587 by Domenico Fontana, who completed the double flight of steps, adorned with ancient capitals and reliefs showing figures of saints.
The Fountain in the center of the square, in the shape of an old, half-capsized ship and known affectionately to the Romans as “La Barcaccia” (rotten old tub), was designed by either Gianlorenzo Bernini or his father Pietro in 1627-1629, when the Tiber burst its banks and the flood waters washed a boat up here.
One of the most famous frescos in Rome can be seen inside SS. Trinità dei Monti. The “Descent from the cross”, by Daniele da Volterra. The influence of his master Michelangelo Buonarroti is clearly perceptible in the muscular bodies of the male figures.