"Palazzo Spada" Rome Off The Beaten Path Tip by abarbieri

Rome Off The Beaten Path: 780 reviews and 1,323 photos

The Palazzo Spada is a palace in Rome that houses a grand art collection, the Galleria Spada. The collection was originally assembled by Cardinal Bernardino Spada in the 17th century and added to by his grand-nephew Cardinal Fabrizio Spada (1643-1717), and by Virginio Spada (1596-1662). The palace is located in the rione Regola, at Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13, with a garden facing the Tiber, very close to the Palazzo Farnese.

It was originally built in 1540 for Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro. Bartolomeo Baronino, of Casale Monferrato, was the architect, while Giulio Mazzoni and a team provided lavish stuccowork inside and out. The palazzo was purchased by Cardinal Spada in 1632. He commissioned Francesco Borromini to modify it for him, and it was Borromini who created the masterpiece of trompe-l'oeil false perspective in the arcaded courtyard, in which diminishing rows of columns and a rising floor create the optical illusion of a gallery 37 meters long (it is 8 meters) with a lifesize sculpture in daylight beyond: the sculpture is 60 cm high. Borromini was aided in his perspective trick by a mathematician.

The Mannerist stucco sculptural decor of the palazzo's front and its courtyard fašades feature sculptures crowded into niches and fruit and flower swags, grotesches and vignettes of symbolic devices (impresi) in bas-relief among the small framed windows of a mezzanine, the richest cinquecento fašades in Rome.

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  • Written Oct 16, 2008
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