Tempietto (Small Temple) in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio, marking the traditional site of St. Peter's martyrdom, Janiculum Hill.

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Tempietto di Bramante & Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio

Trastevere & Gianicolo

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Considered the first great building of the High Renaissance, Bramante’s sublime tempietto (Little Temple) is a perfect surprise, squeezed into the courtyard of the Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio, on the spot where St Peter is said to have been crucified. It's small but perfectly formed; its classically inspired design and ideal proportions epitomize the Renaissance zeitgeist.

Construction of the Tempietto started between 1502 and 1503 and was completed in 1510. The Spanish royal family commissioned the project to Donato Bramante, considered a pioneer of the High Renaissance style in Rome, as a memorial to St Peter, who is traditionally believed to have been crucified on Rome's Gianicolo Hill. Renaissance writer Palladio would later describe the Tempietto as an ideal architectural model, which reflected all the qualities of ancient classical buildings.

It has a circular interior surrounded by 16 columns and topped by a classical frieze, elegant balustrade and dome. More than a century later, in 1628, Bernini added a staircase. Bernini also contributed a chapel to the adjacent church, the last resting place of Beatrice Cenci, an Italian noblewoman who helped murder her abusive father in the 16th century, and subsequently was tried and beheaded on Ponte Sant'Angelo.

Tips and other practicalities

It’s quite a climb up to the church, but it's an ideal stop on a walking tour of Gianicolo. Take bus 115 from the Viale di Trastevere. The Tempietto is reached through the Spanish Royal Academy entrance to the north of the church. If you can get access to the academy's upper level, there are magnificent views of Rome.

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