The Spanish Steps in Rome: why is the square Piazza di Spagna?

Piazza di Spagna is one of the most beautiful spots in the city of Rome, Italy. This square is also one of the most visited places in the capital, and a must-see for any traveller seeking the realms of beauty. But then again, why is it called the Spanish square?

The Spanish square and its fountain at sunset with a purplish light

Piazza di Spagna and Fontana della Barcaccia. | envato

The secular history of Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps

Before it was known as the Spanish square, this popular spot in Rome used to be called Piazza della Trinità de Monti at the early 17th century, alluding to the church watching the square from above. Piazza di Spagna lies at the crossroads of the streets of Babuino, Condotti, Macelli and Propaganda, which provide charming sights of this Italian city.

Aerial view of the Spanish square

Aerial view of the Spanish square. | envato

The beautiful Fontana della Barcaccia awaits us right in the middle of the square. This stunning fountain exhibits an early baroque style, and it was built by Italian sculptor Pietro Bernini in 1629. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII, with the aim of depicting the arrival of a boat during the flooding of the Tiber at Christmas in 1598.

The Spanish square in Rome with a church, a staircase and colourful buildings

The Spanish square in Rome, with the church of Trinità dei Monti in the background. | envato

Further above, we will find the well-known church of Trinità dei Monti, a Gothic and Renaissance-style temple which hosts frescoes painted by Daniele da Volterra in 1541. This is definitely a jewel of Italian Mannerism. The square also hosts the Spanish Steps: a great staircase consisting of 135 steps, which was inaugurated by Pope Benedict XIII in 1725. They are, in fact, Spanish, because they lead us to Piazza di Spagna.

Why they call it the Spanish square

A baroque palace in the Spanish square

The Palace of Spain or Monaldeschi Palace in the Spanish square. | envato

But why is it called the Spanish square? The name comes from the fact that the square is home to the Embassy of Spain since 1647, near the See of Rome and the Order of Malta. Many believe this is the oldest permanent embassy in the world. However, there is another Embassy of Spain in Rome. We can find it in the Palazzo Borghese; this embassy does provide diplomatic and consular Spanish representation in Italy and San Marino.

A fountain and a staircase in the middle of the Spanish square, with a white church on top

The church and convent of Trinità dei Monti in the Spanish square, founded in 1502. | envato

About the author