Galleria Spada

View a secret trompe-l’oeil at this hidden gem of a museum.

Galleria Spada may not be one of Rome’s more famous museums, but it’s well worth a visit because it contains incredible works of art and amazing architectural feats hosted inside a stunning 16th-century palace. Don’t miss out on this lesser-known treasure!

Highlights

  • Disbelieve your eyes as you look down Borromini’s perspective corridor – an architectural optical illusion.
  • View masterpieces by Titian and Artemisia Gentileschi in the gallery’s collection.
  • Admire the palace’s gorgeous façade decorated with stucco sculptures of heroes and emperors.

Tickets & Prices

Tickets to the Spada Gallery grant you access to the four rooms of masterpieces inside the Palazzo Spada and its interior secret garden and famous forced perspective gallery.

Tickets are valid for one entrance on the chosen date of your visit, with the last entrance being thirty minutes before closing time.

Full Price Ticket

This ticket is for all adults over the age of 25, and non-EU citizens over 18.

Reduced Youth Ticket

This ticket is for EU citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 (with valid ID).

Reduced Child Ticket

This ticket is for:

  • Children under the age of 17.
  • EU citizens with a disability, and one carer.

Additional Information:

  • The normal entrance is on Piazza Capo di Ferro, however on Thursdays only, you must use the entrance on Vicolo del Polverone 15b.
  • The museum is open from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm. It’s closed on Tuesdays.
  • Large bags and backpacks are not allowed inside, but there is free storage on site.

What to see and do

Your Galleria Spada ticket grants you access to the following:

The Façades

The first thing one sees as they approach Galleria Spada is the magnificent façade of the palace. It was designed in the Mannerist style, during the late Renaissance, and consists of ornate white-stuccoed sculptural decor. The interior courtyard façades are designed using the same style.

Sculptures of heroes, emperors, and other important figures are placed in niches in between the windows. Above them, on the mezzanine, are intricate carvings of fruit, flowers, and other symbols, in bas-relief. These sculptural elements made Palazzo Spada have one of the richest designed façades of the 1500s.

The Collection

The collection at Galleria Spada is quite unique because it’s one of few in Rome that retains its original display format. The paintings are hung frame-to-frame, with the smaller pictures placed above the larger ones, in the original 17th-century manner. This gives the museum an intimate vibe and transports the viewer back in time.

Most of the collection was assembled by the Spada family back in the 17th century and contains paintings by illustrious artists from the 16th and 17th centuries, as they were deeply interested in collecting and promoting art from their own period. The collection is displayed across four rooms, on the first floor of the palace.

Don’t miss Artemisia Gentileschi’s Madonna and Child or Titian’s Portrait of a Violinist.

The Optical Illusion

Undoubtedly, one of the main draws of the palace is Francesco Borromini’s solution to creating more ‘space’. When asked to make the palace garden appear larger, the Baroque architect came up with a brilliant idea. 

He designed a forced perspective corridor, known as a gallery, measuring only 8 meters long. However, due to an architectural trick involving complicated mathematical calculations, the gallery appears to be almost 40 meters long. What appears to be a life-size statue of the god Mars at the end of the gallery, is actually only 60 centimeters tall!

This incredible optical illusion not only succeeds magnificently in its task of creating more space, but it’s also super fun to see it in person, try to figure it out, and have your own eyes deceive you.

Directions

Galleria Spada is centrally located and easily accessible by bus or tram, though there is no nearby metro station. It’s also within walking distance of many other famous sites in the historic center.

Address: Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13, 00186.

Bus: Lines 23, 280, 70, 81, 87, 492, 628, 40, 46, 62, and 64 all stop within a five-minute walk from the museum.

Tram: Line 8 – Arenula (Ministero Giustizia) or Arenula/Cairoli

On Foot: Palazzo Farnese (2 min.)

Campo de’ Fiori (3 min.)

Piazza Navona (7 min.)

Pantheon (11 min.)

Did you know that: (3 Interesting Facts!)

  1. Borromini’s perspective gallery was used as a filming location in Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning film The Great Beauty.
  2. In order to create the corridor’s spatial illusion, Borromini enlisted the help of an Augustinian priest named Giovanni Maria da Bitonto who was renowned for his mathematical prowess.
  3. During World War II many of the artworks in the collection had been scattered around and the museum remained closed for many years. It was thanks to the Director of the Galleries of Rome at the time, Federico Zeri, that the artworks were recovered and the museum was able to reopen.

History

  • Palazzo Spada was built in 1540 by the commission of Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro, a powerful and well-connected man. Bartolomeo Baronino was the architect.
  • In 1632, the palace was bought by Cardinal Bernadino Spada who commissioned famous architect Francesco Borromini to make some modifications to the edifice to make it look more spacious. Borromini added a garden and created the forced perspective gallery in the courtyard.
  • Cardinal Spada used four rooms in the palace to host his impressive collection of artworks from the 16th and 17th centuries. Those rooms are what the gallery consists of today.
  • In 1926, the palace was purchased by the Italian State to house the gallery and the Italian Council of State.
  • The gallery was officially opened in 1927 and, apart from a period during the Second World War and its aftermath has remained open to this day.
  • Today, the gallery and palace have become a great place to admire art in a more intimate and peaceful setting than one of Rome’s more famous art museums, and it’s perfect for tourists and art lovers who are trying to escape the crowds.
Spada Gallery map

Address: Spada Gallery, Piazza Capo di Ferro 13, 00186 Roma, Italy · view larger map

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