Did you know? The famous Spanish Steps are in fact more French than Spanish. Cardinal Mazarin, chief minister of the French king Louis XIV, originally proposed the construction of the stairway. The 1585 church of Trinità dei Monti, visible on top of the stairway, is in fact a French speaking church and the area around it (Villa Medici included) was, and still is, a French state property while piazza di Spagna is named after Spain because of the historical presence of the Spanish embassy. The stairway wanted to celebrate the 1659 peace between France and Spain after the Franco-Spanish War, and of course the French victory, but the Cardinal Mazarin’s idea was include in the project, assigned to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a huge statue of the Sun King Louis XVI of France. Pope Alexander VII could not accept such a celebration of French power in town so the project was abandoned. Just more than 60 years later the idea of a connection between the Pincian Hill and the rest of the city was resumed. Cardinal Pierre Guérin de Tencin commissioned the construction of the stairway and the project by Francesco De Sanctis was finally chosen. Funded by the friars of the Order of Minims of the French church of Trinità dei monti, Pope Benedict XIII inaugurated the present monumental stairway in occasion of the 1725 Jubilee.
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