The Spanish Academy


A peaceful haven with a centenary history

Situated atop the second-highest hill in the capital, on the right side of the Tiber, the Spanish Academy gives visitors the chance to admire one of the best sunsets over the eternal city. Beyond the rigor and the monastic simplicity of the external structure, the Real Academia de España will surprise you with its hidden gems.

Starting from the basement, ancient roman walls, remains of a cistern and classical pillars decorations indicate a glorious past, although the origins and the function of this structure are not clear.

We know that already from the first half of the ninth century, monks and religious orders started to live and pray between these walls while the transformation of the buildings started around 1481 thanks to a donation made by the Catholic Kings, Isabella I of Castille and Fernando II of Aragon.

The complex expanded and the chiostro  was decorated with frescoes dedicated to the life of San Francesco between 1587 and 1588, before being officially transformed from monastery to academy in 1873. This was a place where Spanish pensionados could learn, develop their artistic skills and discover the capital’s artistic beauty.

tempietto-bramante-rome (1)
Photo: Bradley Weber (CC BY 2.0)

Another reason to visit the Academy is that the complex itself is attached to the Church of San Pietro in Montorio and Donato Bramante’s “little temple”, believed to be the site of St. Peter’s crucifixion. Meanwhile, the interior of the academy features Andalusian architecture, arabesque porticoes and a graveled courtyard that makes you feel as if you have been transported to Spain. On the walls are painted murals or lunettes depicting the history of the Franciscan order.


The Academy includes a library with more than 12,000 volumes and magazines dedicated to ancient and modern Spanish arts but also to other subjects such as politics, architecture, music, literature, and cinematography. Throughout the year, the Academy organizes exhibitions, lectures, concerts, and much more. Up until mid-May 2022, the Real Academia presents “Trame della Memoria”, an installation featuring design objects and stories related to Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue’s iconic architecture projects. The exhibition develops through four halls and the cloister, guiding the visitors across the Academy’s spaces.



Piazza S. Pietro in Montorio, 3

Opening Times
Tuesday to Friday from 12pm to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm

Library is open on weekeday mornings upon appointments (

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