steps to Rome

5 steps to Rome

Steps to Rome: Rome is famous for its steps and staircases, and most of them are attractions in their own right and not just something you happen to stumble across on your way to other sights.

Here is my Top 5 of the most extraordinary steps in the city.

steps to Rome

Spanish Steps Rome. Photo: Z_dead CreativeCommons

The Spanish Steps is the widest and one of the most momentous staircases in Europe. The construction of the 135 steps leading from Piazza di Spagna to Piazza Trinità dei Monti was build in 1723-1725 according to designs by by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi to celebrate the peace treaty between France and Spain, linking the top of the hill (under French influence, with the church of Trinità dei Monti and French monastic institutions) to the Spanish embassy at the bottom of the hill. In the Renaissance, Piazza di Spagna at the foot of the stairs was lined with hotels, inns and residences where artists and writers stayed while in Rome. In consequence, the square and the Spanish Steps became one of the most it one of most frequently painted and described attractions in city.

steps to Rome

helix stairs, Rome. Photo: ciccioetneo CreativeCommons

One of the most beautiful staircases in Rome is the helix stairs in the Vatican Museums. The broad steps actually consist of two intertwined spirals; one leads up and another leads down to street level from the floor of the Museums. Compared to most other sights in Rome the twisted staircase is not that old, it was designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, but it is extremely popular – both as a sight and as a symbol of life, due to its resemblance to the double helix DNA strand (which was, however, discovered later).

steps to Rome

Scala Sancta, Rome. Photo: uitdragerij CreativeCommons

In Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano you’ll find the Scala Sancta Jesus had to climb on his way to his trial by Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. How the staircase ended up in Rome beats me, but the teleportation is normally attributed to Saint Helena who had a special talent for finding Christian relics. The 28 steps in wood encased white marble have been an important pilgrim site for centuries and if you kneel you can still see the marks left by the blood of Christ on the marble.

steps to Rome

Peter’s square, Rome. Photo: marfis75 CreativeCommons

Still in the Vatican, I can’t help mentioning the stairs to the dome of Saint Peter’s. It is an extremely crammed and narrow winding staircase leading to a magnificent and dizzying view Saint Peter’s Square and Rome. On the internet, people argue about whether there are 320 or 500 steps to the top. I didn’t keep count, but it is a hard climb, and a lot of people prefer to take the elevator part of the way.

steps to Rome

Capitoline Hill, Rome. Photo: Jean & Nathalie CreativeCommons

Capitoline Hill between the Forum and Campus Martius is one of the seven hills in Rome and the only one incorporated in an urban plan by Michelangelo.The Renaissance artist and architect designed Piazza del Campidoglio with the surrounding palaces. Ascending the hill Michelangelo devised a sloping Cordonata with steps so wide that horse riders could ascend without dismounting, and the monumental balustrade guarded by giant statues of Castor and Pollux, the twin brothers who, according to legend, fought at the head of the Roman army at the Battle of Lake Regillus and subsequently brought news of the victory back to Rome.

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25 replies
  1. Sophie
    Sophie says:

    Great idea for an article. I’ve been sitting on the Spanish steps a million times and often pondered why they’re called Spanish. Never remembered to check, though, so thanks for that info. Also, never climbed to the top of St Peter’s; didn’t know it was possible. Will next time. I’ll remember to count the steps :)

    Reply
    • admin
      admin says:

      Thanks. Hope you’ll let me know where the count ends, because I inevitably lose the thread, before I reach the top.

      Reply
  2. Don Faust
    Don Faust says:

    Great list. I love Rome – was just there just a couple of month’s ago. I really loved the Scala Sancta – managed to get off a great shot from the top of the stairs.

    Reply
  3. Rennie Severn
    Rennie Severn says:

    The Spanish Steps is the widest and one of the most momentous staircases in Europe. The construction of the 135 steps leading from Piazza di Spagna to Piazza Trinità dei Monti was build in 1723-1725 according to designs by by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi to celebrate the peace treaty between France and Spain, linking the top of the hill (under French influence, with the church of Trinità dei Monti and French monastic institutions) to the Spanish embassy at the bottom of the hill. In the Renaissance, Piazza di Spagna at the foot of the stairs was lined with hotels, inns and residences where artists and writers stayed while in Rome. In consequence, the square and the Spanish Steps became one of the most it one of most frequently painted and described attractions in city.

    Reply
  4. Christina Stockton
    Christina Stockton says:

    I love the pictures of the stairs! I am very much looking forward to seeing them myself next month.

    Reply

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  2. A travel blog » The Radar: Rome’s Five Best Steps, Fly or Drive?, What Not to Do on a RTW Trip says:

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