Palazzo dello Spagnolo, in Naples’s Rione Sanità, is attributed to one of the masters of Neapolitan baroque architecture, Gaetano Sanfelice (1675-1748), famous for the daring design of his staircases.
The so-called “eagle wings” stairs in Palazzo dello Spagnolo certainly are the most spectacular and famous in Naples, and a symbol of Neapolitan baroque architecture. There are other examples in Palazzo Trabucco and Palazzo Venezia, as well as in other buildings designed by Sanfelice, like Palazzo Sanfelice (which he built for his family between 1724 and 1728) and Palazzo Di Majo (renovated in 1728).
Palazzo dello Spagnolo – which is named after the nickname given to Tommaso Atienza, who bought it at the end of the 1700s – was designed in the first half of the 18th century for Nicola Moscati, the Marquis of Poppano.
The double ramp staircase was designed to be a place for socialization, and is an outstanding representation of human existence as a theater play: the curtain opens on the inside of the building, where the actors are all the residents who meet as they go up and down the steps.