Chiara Bianchi

Exploring Aventine Hill and Knights of Malta Keyhole

Journey through the serene Aventine Hill and discover the intriguing Knights of Malta Keyhole for a unique view of Rome in the Testaccio district.

Attraction Testaccio
View through Knights of Malta Keyhole on Aventine Hill


Discover the serene and historic Aventine Hill in Rome, home to the famed Knights of Malta Keyhole. This article offers an in-depth exploration of this unique destination, revealing its historical significance and the mystical allure of the keyhole's view.

Setting Expectations: Downsides and Time Considerations

While Aventine Hill offers tranquil gardens and stunning views, visitors should be prepared for a bit of a walk to reach the top. The area is less crowded than other Roman tourist spots, providing a peaceful experience. Visiting the Knights of Malta Keyhole requires patience, as there can be a queue, but the wait is worth the unique peek it offers.

Tips for your visit of Aventine Hill and Knights of Malta Keyhole

  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds and enjoy softer light for photography.
  • Footwear: Wear comfortable shoes for walking and exploring the hill's gardens and paths.
  • Photography: Bring a camera for the keyhole view and the panoramic cityscapes from the hill.
  • Respect the Privacy: The Knights of Malta residence is a private property, so visitors should respect the privacy and boundaries.

Additionally, take time to explore the nearby Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) for a beautiful view of Rome.

Practical Information

    Opening Hours: The Aventine Hill is open to the public all year round, but the best time to visit the keyhole is during daylight hours for a clear view.

    How to Get There: Reachable by bus (lines 23, 280, or 716) and a short walk. Nearest metro station is Circo Massimo on Line B.

    Price: Free admission.

    Crowds: Usually less crowded than central attractions, but small queues for the keyhole are common.

    Weather Considerations: Best visited in clear weather for the best views.

    Photography: Allowed and recommended, especially for the keyhole view.

    Accessibility: Some areas might be challenging for wheelchairs due to uneven paths.

    Facilities: Limited facilities on the hill; nearest amenities are in the surrounding neighborhoods.

    Tours: Guided tours are available, offering historical insights into the Aventine Hill and its surroundings.

    Bringing Children: Children-friendly, with open spaces for exploration.

    Bringing Pets: Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

    These details are subject to change; please check the official website for the latest information

Must see

  • Knights of Malta Keyhole

    Through this famous keyhole, one can see a perfectly framed view of St. Peter's Basilica in the distance. The keyhole is located on the property of the Priory of the Knights of Malta, creating a unique visual alignment with the basilica.

  • Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci)

    This picturesque garden offers a serene environment and one of the best panoramic views of Rome. It's a perfect spot for a peaceful stroll and to enjoy the scent of orange trees.

  • Church of Santa Sabina

    One of the oldest basilicas in Rome, this 5th-century church is known for its beautiful interior and historical significance, reflecting early Christian architecture.

  • Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin

    Home to the famous Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità), this church also boasts a beautiful interior and a rich history dating back to the 8th century.

Additional tip: Take a leisurely walk along the Clivo di Rocca Savella, a less-traveled path with beautiful views and historic sites.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the myth of the Aventine Hill?

    The Aventine Hill is steeped in Roman mythology, notably as the site where Remus chose to stand to watch for auspicious birds during the foundation of Rome. According to legend, he saw fewer birds than his brother Romulus, leading to the latter's founding of Rome on the Palatine Hill.

  • What can you see through the Aventine Keyhole?

    Through the Aventine Keyhole, visitors can see a stunning and unique view of St. Peter's Basilica, framed by the garden's arches and the keyhole itself. This view combines the beauty of nature, architecture, and the iconic silhouette of the basilica.

  • How to get to the Aventine Keyhole?

    To reach the Aventine Keyhole, take a bus to Aventino-S. Sabina station and walk along Via di Santa Sabina. The keyhole is located at the gate of the Priory of the Knights of Malta. It's a short and pleasant walk, but it's uphill, so comfortable footwear is advised.

Historical Background

Aventine Hill, one of Rome's seven hills, has a rich history dating back to ancient Rome. It was considered a more auspicious and residential area, away from the city's hustle and bustle. The Knights of Malta, a religious and military order, established their priory here in the 14th century, adding to the hill's historical tapestry. The keyhole view was unintentionally created and later became one of Rome's most charming curiosities.

Lesser known stories and Interesting Facts

  • Origin of the Keyhole View

    The famous keyhole view was not initially designed with the alignment of St. Peter's Basilica in mind. It was a serendipitous result that emerged after the construction of the priory and its gardens.

  • Legends of the Aventine Hill

    Aventine Hill is shrouded in legends, including one about a secret tunnel from the hill to the Tiber River, supposedly used by the Knights Templar.

  • The Orange Garden's History

    The Orange Garden was originally the site of the ancient fortress of the Savelli family, later transformed into a public park in 1932.

  • The Importance of Santa Sabina

    Santa Sabina is an architectural gem, showcasing early Christian art and architecture. It's a testament to Rome's ecclesiastical history and artistic evolution.

  • The Mouth of Truth's Mystery

    The Mouth of Truth, located in the portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, is surrounded by mystery. It's believed that if a liar places their hand inside the mouth, it will be bitten off.