Chiara Bianchi

Exploring Tempietto at San Pietro

Discover the architectural marvel of Tempietto at San Pietro in Rome's Trastevere, a testament to Renaissance artistry.

Attraction Trastevere
Tempietto at San Pietro in Rome


The Tempietto at San Pietro in Montorio is a small but magnificent Renaissance masterpiece in Rome. It was designed by Donato Bramante in the early 16th century as a commemoration of the site where, according to tradition, Saint Peter was crucified. The Tempietto is a harmonious blend of classical and Christian elements, reflecting the humanist ideals of the Renaissance. In this article, you will learn more about the history, architecture, and symbolism of this remarkable monument.

Setting Expectations: Downsides and Time Considerations

The Tempietto is located inside the courtyard of the San Pietro in Montorio church, which is on a hill overlooking the city. The church itself is not very impressive, and the courtyard is often closed to visitors. You may need to ask the custodian to let you in, or join a guided tour that includes the Tempietto. The visit will not take long, as the Tempietto is very small and there is not much else to see in the area. However, if you are interested in Renaissance art and architecture, or in the history of Christianity in Rome, you will find it worth your time.

Tips for your visit of the Tempietto

  • Combine it with other attractions. The Tempietto is not far from other famous landmarks, such as the Vatican, the Trastevere neighborhood, and the Gianicolo hill. You can easily include it in your itinerary and enjoy the panoramic views along the way.
  • Book a guided tour. The Tempietto is not well explained by signs or brochures, and you may miss some of its details and meanings. A guided tour will help you appreciate its beauty and significance better. You can find several options online or ask your hotel for recommendations.

Practical Information

Opening Hours: The church and the courtyard are open from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Monday to Saturday. They are closed on Sundays and public holidays.

How to Get There: You can reach the Tempietto by bus (lines 23, 115, 280, or 870) or by taxi. The nearest bus stop is Piazza di San Pietro in Montorio. You can also walk from the Vatican (about 20 minutes) or from Trastevere (about 15 minutes).

Price: Admission to the church and the courtyard is free. However, you may need to pay a small fee (around 2 euros) to the custodian if you want to enter the Tempietto. Guided tours may have different prices depending on the provider and the duration.

Crowds: The Tempietto is not very crowded, as it is not a popular tourist attraction. You may encounter some groups of students or pilgrims, but you will likely have the place to yourself most of the time.

Weather Considerations: The Tempietto is an outdoor monument, so it may be affected by weather conditions. It is best to visit it on a sunny day, when you can enjoy its colors and contrasts better. Avoid visiting it on a rainy or foggy day, as it may be slippery and obscured.

Photography: You are allowed to take photos of the Tempietto, but you may need to ask for permission first. Flash photography is not allowed inside the church. Be respectful of other visitors and do not obstruct their view.

Accessibility: The Tempietto is not very accessible for people with mobility issues. There are some steps and uneven surfaces to reach it, and there is no ramp or elevator available. The church and the courtyard are also not very spacious and may be difficult to navigate with a wheelchair.

Facilities: There are no facilities at the Tempietto, such as restrooms, cafés, or souvenir shops. You may find some nearby at the church or in the surrounding streets.

Tours: There are several tours that include the Tempietto, either as a main focus or as part of a larger itinerary. You can choose from different options, such as private, group, or audio tours. Some of the most popular providers are Viator, GetYourGuide, and Rome Private Guides.

Bringing Children: The Tempietto may not be very appealing for children, as it is not very interactive or fun. However, you can try to make it more interesting for them by telling them stories about Saint Peter, the Renaissance, or the symbolism of the monument. You can also let them play in the courtyard or in the nearby park.

Bringing Pets: Pets are not allowed inside the church or the courtyard, so you will have to leave them outside or with someone else. You can also find some pet-friendly hotels or restaurants in the area if you need to.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Tempietto?

    The Tempietto is a small circular chapel designed by Donato Bramante in the early 16th century. It is located in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio, a church on the Janiculum Hill in Rome. The Tempietto is considered one of the masterpieces of Renaissance architecture and a symbol of the harmony between classical and Christian ideals.

  • Why is the Tempietto important?

    The Tempietto is important for several reasons. First, it marks the spot where, according to tradition, Saint Peter was crucified upside down by the Romans. Second, it represents the first use of the Tuscan order, a simplified version of the Doric order, in a circular building. Third, it influenced many later architects, such as Michelangelo, Palladio and Bernini, who admired its proportions and elegance.

  • How can I visit the Tempietto?

    The Tempietto is open to the public from Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. On Sundays and holidays, it is open from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Admission is free, but you need to ring the bell at the gate of San Pietro in Montorio and ask for permission to enter. You can also book a guided tour online or by phone.

Must see

  • The dome

    The dome of the Tempietto is one of its most striking features. It is composed of two concentric shells, an inner one that supports a coffered ceiling and an outer one that covers it with lead tiles. The dome rests on a drum decorated with sixteen pilasters and sixteen windows. On top of the dome, there is a lantern with a bronze ball and cross.

  • The columns

    The columns of the Tempietto are another remarkable element. They are sixteen in number and surround the circular plan of the chapel. They are made of travertine, a type of limestone, and have smooth shafts and simple capitals. They support an entablature with a plain architrave, a frieze with triglyphs and metopes, and a cornice with dentils.

  • The altar

    The altar of the Tempietto is located in the center of the chapel and marks the exact spot where Saint Peter was crucified. It is made of marble and has a circular shape. It is raised on three steps and surrounded by a balustrade with four columns. On the altar, there is a bronze plaque with an inscription in Latin that reads: "HIC EST LOCUS UBI PETRUS APOSTOLUS CRUCI AFFIXUS EST" (This is the place where Peter the Apostle was affixed to the cross).

  • The cloister

    The cloister of San Pietro in Montorio is adjacent to the Tempietto and worth a visit as well. It was built in the late 15th century by Baccio Pontelli and Antonio da Sangallo the Elder. It has a rectangular shape and four porticoes with arches and columns. The cloister contains several frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi and other saints.

If you visit the Tempietto, you should also take some time to enjoy the panoramic view of Rome from the Janiculum Hill. You can see many landmarks, such as St. Peter's Basilica, Castel Sant'Angelo, Piazza Navona, and more. You can also watch the daily cannon firing at noon from a nearby terrace.

Lesser known stories and Interesting Facts

  • The Tempietto was built on the site of St. Peter's martyrdom

    The small circular temple was commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain to commemorate the spot where the apostle Peter was crucified upside down by the Roman emperor Nero. The Tempietto, which means "little temple" in Italian, is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture.

  • The Tempietto was designed by Donato Bramante, one of the greatest architects of the Renaissance

    Bramante was a friend and rival of Michelangelo, who praised his work as "harmony in architecture". Bramante was inspired by the classical forms of ancient Rome and Greece, and used columns, domes, and arches to create a harmonious and elegant structure. The Tempietto is considered one of the first examples of the High Renaissance style.

  • The Tempietto is surrounded by a cloister with 16 granite columns

    The cloister was added later by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, another famous architect and sculptor of the Baroque period. Bernini wanted to create a contrast between the simplicity of the Tempietto and the richness of the surrounding decoration. The cloister also serves as a frame for the Tempietto, making it stand out from the rest of the complex.

  • The Tempietto has a hidden crypt underneath

    The crypt is accessible by a spiral staircase that leads to a small chamber with an altar. The altar is said to mark the exact spot where St. Peter was crucified. The crypt also contains a fragment of the wooden cross that was used for his execution. The crypt is usually closed to the public, but can be visited by special permission.

  • The Tempietto is part of a larger complex called San Pietro in Montorio

    San Pietro in Montorio is a church and a monastery that was built on one of the hills of Rome, overlooking the city. The complex dates back to the 9th century, but was rebuilt several times over the centuries. The church contains many artworks, such as paintings by Sebastiano del Piombo and frescoes by Vasari. The monastery is now home to the Spanish Academy, a cultural institution that promotes Spanish art and culture in Italy.

Historical Background

The Tempietto is not only a beautiful monument, but also a symbol of the history and faith of Christianity. It represents the connection between Rome and Jerusalem, between the ancient and the modern world, between paganism and Christianity.

Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire, which persecuted and killed many Christians in its early days. St. Peter was one of the first victims of this persecution, and his martyrdom became a source of inspiration and courage for many believers. His tomb in Vatican City became one of the most sacred places for Christians, and his successor, the Pope, became the leader of the Catholic Church.

Jerusalem was the holy city where Jesus lived and died, and where Christianity originated. It was also conquered and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, after a Jewish revolt. Many Christians fled from Jerusalem to other parts of the world, spreading their faith and message.

The Tempietto symbolizes the link between these two cities, as it is built on the model of the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem. It also symbolizes the triumph of Christianity over paganism, as it replaces a pagan temple that was dedicated to Jupiter. It also symbolizes the unity of Christianity, as it was commissioned by Spain, one of the most powerful Catholic countries at the time.

Nearby Restaurants

  • La Piazzetta A cozy restaurant that serves traditional Roman cuisine, such as pasta carbonara, saltimbocca alla romana, and tiramisu. The restaurant has a terrace with a view of the Tempietto and the city.
  • Il Forno di Gianfornaio A bakery and pastry shop that offers fresh bread, pizza, croissants, cakes, and cookies. The bakery is famous for its cornetti, which are similar to French croissants but filled with cream or jam.
  • Antico Caffè del Moro A historic café that dates back to the 18th century, where artists and intellectuals used to meet and chat. The café serves coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and pastries, as well as sandwiches, salads, and soups.

Nearby Attractions

  • Fontana dell'Acqua Paola A monumental fountain that was built in 1612 by Pope Paul V to celebrate the completion of an aqueduct that brought water to the area. The fountain has five large arches and a granite basin, and is decorated with marble columns and sculptures.
  • Villa Farnesina A Renaissance villa that was built by Agostino Chigi, a wealthy banker and patron of the arts. The villa is famous for its frescoes by Raphael, Peruzzi, and Sodoma, which depict scenes from classical mythology and literature.
  • Trastevere A charming neighborhood that is known for its narrow streets, colorful houses, and lively nightlife. Trastevere is full of restaurants, bars, pubs, and clubs, where you can enjoy the authentic Roman atmosphere.


The Tempietto is a hidden gem that deserves to be visited by anyone who loves art, history, and religion. It is a masterpiece of architecture that reflects the spirit of the Renaissance and the faith of Christianity. It is also a great starting point to explore the surrounding area, which offers many other attractions and experiences. If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience in Rome, don't miss the Tempietto!