Galleria Spada

Palazzo Spada in Rome

Hidden gems in Rome: Borromini’s optical illusion at Palazzo Spada

Located in Piazza Capodiferro, a few minutes walk from Campo de’ Fiori, Palazzo Spada-Capodiferro is one of the most amazing Roman Renaissance buildings and will manage to take your breath away if you aren’t already engulfed by another beauty in Rome’s historic center.

The palazzo, with a beautiful garden facing the Tiver River, is home to the Galleria Spada, the Cardinal Spada’s private collection: housing works by Guido Reni, Titian, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Guercino, Rubens, Dürer, Caravaggio and Domenichino, and the list goes on.

It is a perfect example of the 17th century Roman noble families collecting as well as being one of the most important international museums of Baroque painting.

galleria spada museum in rome
Photo: Sonse – – (CC BY 2.0)

However, one of the most popular views is the master architect Borromini’s forced perspective optical illusion in the internal courtyard. Built between 1652 and 1653, the gallery appears to us as an exceptional game of perspectives typical of the Baroque period. With shrinking columns and a raised floor, you get the illusion of a 37 meters long gallery with a life-size sculpture at the end. When in reality you are looking at an 8 meters long gallery with a 60cm high sculpture.

Forced perspective gallery by Francesco Borromini, Galleria Spada
Photo: Sonse –
(CC BY 2.0)

One of the best things about this location is that it couples architectural art – its decorative façade and beautiful courtyard – with other visual arts, including the four-room gallery filled with the Spada family’s collection of works by several renowned artists.

It is definitely a must-see in Rome.


Palazzo Spada Rome Illustration
Illustration by Eduardo Laita:

Piazza Capodiferro, 13

Wednesday – Monday 8.30am – 7.30pm

Entry fee: €6

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