Rome's Galleria Spada hosts an exquisite art collection.
Galleria Spada, located in central Rome between Campo de' Fiori and the river Tiber, hosts a sumptuous art collection of works by 16th- and 17th-century masters.
The museum's four rooms contain paintings by artists such as Caravaggio, Guido Reni, Guercino, Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, Titian, Baciccia, Dürer, Jan Brueghel the Elder and Rubens.The gallery also happens to be housed in one of Rome's most beautiful buildings, the 16th-century Palazzo Capodiferro, built originally in 1540 for Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro.
Purchased in 1632 by Cardinal Spada, the palace's front façades were decorated with Mannerist stucco sculptures representing Roman heroes and emperors while its elegant inner courtyard was adorned with Olympian gods and goddesses and mythological scenes.The palace's secret garden is also home to an optical illusion by Baroque genius Francesco Borromini. This stunning example of forced perspective – commissioned by Cardinal Spada – is centred around a magnificent colonnade whose diminishing rows of columns and rising floor level trick the eye into thinking the corridor is 37 metres long instead of its actual nine-metre length.Borromini's spectacular trompe-l'œil effect is compounded by what appears to be a life-size statue at the end of the colonnata; the statue of Mars - the Roman god of war - is in fact only 60cm high.
Palazzo Spada was purchased by Italy in 1927 and today houses the Italian Council of State.
The gallery is open 08.30-19.30, closed on Tuesday. Guided tours are available on prior booking in English and Italian, tel. 0632810. On Thurdays, entrance is via the nearby Via del Polverone 15/b.
For full visiting details see Galleria Spada website.