Palazzo Spada, Roma
The Palazzo Spada is a palace located near the Palazzo Farnese and Ponte Sisto, in the very heart of Rome, basically on Tiber’s shore. Back in the day, it served as a residence for Italian Catholic noble family Spada, but today it is a place where meetings of Council of State are held at. Nevertheless, the tourists find the Galleria Spada situated inside the building much more interesting. This is a must-visit place for aesthetes. It offers artworks created by the most famous painters of many origins (including Italian) such as Titian, Guercino, Guido Reni and other eminent artists.
History of Palazzo Spada
In 1540 Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro decided to build a palace for himself. Architect Bartolomeo Baronino took charge of building design; sculptor Giulio Mazzoni was the one who decorated the exteriors. In 1559 Cardinal died, and his nephew inherited the palace. Then in 1632, it was bought by a much richer cardinal named Bernardino Spada. He made a fateful decision to turn this place into a fancy residence and therefore began reconstructing the entire building. He entrusted redesigning work to a famous, but quite radical early Baroque architect Francesco Borromini. And he indeed picked the right person for this. The construction was completed in 1653.
As a result, Borromini’s Perspective Gallery was created: with the help of optical illusion the arched passageway seems to be 37 meters long, and statues appear to be much bigger than they actually are. Cardinal and his descendants collected as many artworks from 16th and 17th century as possible. In 1927 just like other estates of noble families it was bought by the government, and Galleria Spada was opened to the public. During World War II the major part of the collection was lost. Later a series of difficult restoration works were completed in 1951.
Façade of the palace can compete with the most elegant and richly decorated buildings. It is embellished with stucco reliefs, vignettes, and cartouches. There are also statues set in niches of exterior walls on the second level and right above those, on the top level, – plaques describing various achievements of the personas to whom the sculptures were dedicated. The third floor which is situated between them is decorated with stucco festoons depicting cupids and caryatids. Notice Cardinal Capodiferro’s motto «Utroque Tempore» written on medallions here.
The courtyard boasts sculptures of ancient deities 12 niches and friezes with mythical creatures on them, including centaurs, harpies, and newts. Here mentioned before Borromini’s Perspective Gallery catches visitor’s eye and staggers their imagination.
Today the Palazzo Spada has four halls where walls are decorated with frescos. It houses replicas of furniture and utensils of the 17th century as well as paintings done in various art styles. Interestingly, all the canvases remained right where they were placed for the first time when the cardinal-collector or his heirs who filled up the collection were still alive.
Spada’s coat of arms is situated in the center of the ceiling. Of course, a portrait of the man without whom the collection wouldn’t exist in the first place is considered to be the most valuable piece around here. This is a painting of Bernardino Spada himself created by the painter Guido Reni who also happened to be his friend.
The third hall was originally intended by Cardinal as a place to exhibit his collection. Artworks created by followers of the Romanian, Bolognese and Flemish Schools are put here on display. In 1951 various paintings done by Michelangelo da Caravaggio’s apprentices were collected and exhibited in the fourth hall. Galleria Spada also offers canvases of such famous artists as Guido Reni, Titian, Caravaggio, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Rubens, Dürer, Domenichino, Andrea del Sarto, Parmigianino, Orazio Gentileschi, etc.
How to get
The Palazzo Spada is located in the heart of Rome, on Piazza Capodiferro, 13. Curious tourist can reach the palace from different parts of the capital by taking buses 64, 62, 40, 44, 46, 8, 628, 87, 81, 70, 492, 280, 271. You can also simply walk down to it through the fascinating historical center of Rome since all the well-known sites, such as Coliseum, Circus Maximus, and Pantheon, are located pretty close, within 20-25 minutes of walking distance.
Opening hours: from 8:30 до 19:30. The ticket office closes at 19:00. The palace is open daily, except for Tuesdays, January 1, May 1 and December 1.
Admission: full ticket costs 5 euros. Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. The information is relevant for February 2018.