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A magnet for visitors since the 18th century, the Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) provide a perfect people-watching perch. The 135 gleaming steps rise from Piazza di Spagna to the landmark Chiesa della Trinità dei Monti.
Piazza di Spagna was named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, although the staircase, designed by the Italian Francesco de Sanctis, was built in 1725 with money bequeathed by a French diplomat.
At the top of the steps, the Chiesa della Trinità dei Monti was commissioned by King Louis XII of France and consecrated in 1585. Apart from the memorable views from outside, it boasts some wonderful frescoes by Daniele da Volterra, including the masterful Deposizione (Deposition).
Down on the piazza, the Barcaccia (the ‘sinking boat’ fountain) is believed to be by Pietro Bernini, father of the more famous Gian Lorenzo. In 2015 it was damaged by Dutch football fans, and the Dutch subsequently offered to repair it.
To the southeast, adjacent Piazza Mignanelli is dominated by the Colonna dell’Immacolata, built in 1857 to celebrate Pope Pius IX’s declaration of the Immaculate Conception.