The Spanish Steps in Rome are considered a masterpiece of scenography dating to the 18th century that connect the Pincian Hill and the Piazza di Spagna with 135 steps. These steps were built with funds left by French diplomat Étienne Gueffier, commissioned by Cardinal Pierre Guérin de Tencin and created by architect Francesco de Sanctis. They were inaugurated at the Jubilee of 1725 by Pope Benedict XIII.

Before the steps were built, the only way to access the hilltop church was to climb the steep slope that rises 29 meters, which was not an easy trek. Today, they are a major visitor attraction.

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A brief history of the Spanish Steps in Rome

The Spanish Steps in Rome were the culmination of generations of debate about how to urbanise the steep hill in the city. Gueffier bequeathed a portion of his fortune to the project in 1660. In 1717, a competition was held to design the steps, which was won by the obscure architect de Sanctis.

When completed, the stairs – which consist of 11 ramps and a series of balustrades that wind, twist and change direction – connected the Holy See to the Bourbon Spanish Embassy. For centuries they were in poor condition, but they were restored to their original glory in 2016 and today are a major historical attraction.

What else is good to know about the Spanish Steps in Rome?

The Spanish Steps in Rome are a public staircase that is principally used today to reach the Pincio and Villa Medici. Every year during the vacations, the city displays a crib manger on the first landing in a tradition dating to the 19th century. Every year in April, the stairs are lined with pots of azaleas through early May. The steps are also known for a small cut-flower market.

While the steps are often crowded with people, urban regulations forbid loitering and specifically forbid eating on the stairs. The stairs have been featured in literature, movie, TV, art and popular music.

Spanish Steps in Rome

Location: Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma RM, Italy