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The Spanish Steps is one of Rome, Italy’s most famous attractions. Much so that local authorities enforce certain regulations not just to protect the historic spot but because it’s always flocked by tourists, some of whom are endangering others.

For instance, a tourist from the United States was fined for throwing a scooter down the stairs just when it was yet to recover from the fracas caused by a Saudi Arabian who drove a sports car on the historic site.

The steep staircase has been serving the area since 1725, retaining its grandeur through the years, thanks as well to the added beauty of its nearby spots like the Piazza di Spagna and the Fontana della Barcaccia. There might be better destinations than Rome, but when in Europe, it’s a must-visit.


This world-famous attraction is even made popular by artists who frequent it and movies shot in the area. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, so visitors of this Italian city must not miss counting the steps of this iconic stairway.

An “International” History

The United Nations would be proud to know that the Spanish Steps came to life because of “international” cooperation. And now, people from all over the world visit this historic site.

Why The Name

Though located in the capital of Italy, the landmark is named Spanish Steps. It got its name from Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square), which is located at the bottom of the stairway. The square, in turn, got its name from Palazzo di Spagna (Palace of Spain), where the Embassy of Spain is located.

Funded By A French

Though named after the Spanish, the 135-step landmark was funded by a Frenchman. When he died in 1660, former French diplomat Etienne Gueffier donated a part of his fortune to the construction of the stairs. Though funded as early as 1660, the project remained in limbo until 1717.

Made By Italians

A design competition was launched in 1717 and won by Italian architect Francesco de Sanctis. It was finished in 1725 and connected the Spanish Embassy at the bottom to the church of Trinità dei Monti at the top. It has been restored many times, especially since it is visited by millions of visitors annually.

With English Influences

The “international” influence of the Spanish Steps doesn’t end with France. British poet John Keats relocated to a villa near this landmark in 1820 when he was suffering from tuberculosis. His stay was short-lived, however, because the following year, he succumbed to the disease.

The villa where he stayed is now a museum called Keats–Shelley Memorial House. It’s among the tourist spots in Rome, especially since it's home to a large collection of memorabilia related to the poet and other literary figures like Percy Bysshe Shelley and Oscar Wilde.

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Famous Among Artists

The Spanish Steps is an artwork considered by some to be a Baroque masterpiece. Its grandeur might be the reason why it was visited by Keats, his contemporaries, and other creative souls.

Loved By Painters And Photographers

So famous is the Spanish Steps that it has been featured in many paintings and photographs, especially now that Instagram is a thing. Among those who made a masterpiece out of this Roman attraction are Maurice Prendergast, David Lloyd Glover, Guido Borelli, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Harry Wearne, and many more. Photographers are also enamored by the landmark’s beauty, and among those who immortalized it are Pietro Dovizielli and Gustave de Beaucorps. That's the Spanish Steps, attracting many souls through the years.

The Spanish Steps is a popular film location. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck graced this Italian sensation for the 1953 film Roman Holiday. Matt Damon also visited it in the 90s for the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley. Many Italian movies also featured the stairways as well as television shows in and out of the region. The Spanish Steps are simply alluring.

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Follow The Rules

To protect the historical site, local authorities enforce restrictions against certain activities in the stairway. This is not just to preserve the landmark but also for the public’s safety.

No Riding And Driving, Please

As previously mentioned, tourists should be reminded not to take their scooters or bicycles down the stairway. If two-wheeled vehicles are not allowed, more so are cars, carts, and the like. Tourists should remember that the Spanish Steps have been around for almost 300 years, so they should take part in protecting its heritage.

Yes To Sightseeing, No To Sitting

Yes, sitting is not allowed on the Spanish Steps. The New York Times reported that a fine of 400 euros awaits those who will violate this ordinance. Said rule was implemented to “guarantee decorum, security, and legality” to avoid actions that are “not compatible with the historical and artistic decorum” of the city. It’s a fairly new regulation that raised some eyebrows but is a step forward in protecting the icon.

Explore The Nearby Attractions

Aside from the Keats–Shelley Memorial House, there are other spots near the Spanish Steps which are equally impressive and worthy of a visit. There’s the Babington's tea room that has been serving guests for over a century. The fountain at the bottom is another favorite spot, as well as the humble church at the top. Wherever guests set their eyes, there’s beauty in every corner of this place.

The area is a favorite stop by tourists exploring other places in Rome like Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Colosseum, Trastevere, Colosseum, Campo de Fiori, and even the Vatican. Walking from the Trevi Fountain to the stairway is another option, too.

The Spanish Steps are more than just a tourist spot but a place where the past lives on. It has been preserved by residents through the years, loved by foreigners then and now, and continues to be an important attraction in Rome. It’s a must-see, and it must always be protected.