Trinità dei Monti & Spanish Steps
dei Monti (also called Santissima Trinità al Monte Pincio, Trinità del
Monte, or Holy Trinity on Pincio Hill) is a Baroque church in Rome. It
is best known for its scenographic dominance above the Spanish Steps
that descend into the Piazza di Spagna. In
1494 Saint Francis of Paola, a hermit from Calabria bought a vineyard
from the Papal scholar and former patriarch of Aquileia, Ermolao
Barbaro, and then obtained the authorization from Pope Alexander VI to
establish a monastery. In 1502, Louis XII of France began construction
of the church of Trinità dei Monti next to this monastery, to celebrate
his successful invasion of Naples. Construction began in a cutomarily
French style with pointed late Gothic arches. Construction lagged, and
a more conventionally Italian Renaissance church, with Carlo Maderno's
façade, was finally consecrated in 1585 by the great urbanizer Pope
Sixtus V, whose via Sistina connected the Piazza below with the Porta
del Popolo, the main north entrance to Rome.
Bourbon kings of France remained patrons of the church. During the
Napoleonic occupation of Rome, the church, like many others in Rome,
was despoiled of its artwork and decoration. After the Bourbon
restoration Louis XVIII, the looted artwork was returned, and the
present façade was commissioned in 1816 from Carlo Francesco Mazois.
1828, under an agreement worked out by Pope Leo XII and Charles X of
France, the church and monastery were entrusted to the "Religieuses du
Sacré-Coeur de Jésus" (Society of the Sacred Heart), a French religious
order, which remained at the church and monastery until the year 2006.
In September 2006, the church and monastery were newly entrusted to the
"Fraternités Monastiques de Jérusalem" (Monastic Fraternity of
Jerusalem), also a French religious order, founded in 1975 by Brother
Pierre-Marie Delfieux. The Monastic Fraternity of Jerusalem remains
headquartered there still today.
The Spanish Steps
(Italian: Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) are a set of steps in
Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the
base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the church of Trinità
dei Monti. The Scalinata is the longest and widest staircase in
Europe. The monumental stairway of 138 steps was built with French
diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in
1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, today
still located in Palazzo Monaldeschi in the piazza below, with the
Trinità dei Monti above.