The Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio, on the Janiculum hill in the rione Trastevere in Rome, was built during the Middle Ages, at the site where there used to be another church dedicated to Saint Peter. The church is full of works of art by famous masters, but the highlight is the Tempietto di Bramante, a small, perfectly proportioned temple in its courtyard.
San Pietro in Montorio Church Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Piazza di San Pietro in Montorio, 2 – Rome (tel. +39 06 5813940). Bus: 115, 125. Opening hours: Every day from 08.00 until 12.00 and from 15.00 until 16.00 hours. Admission: Free.
The spot where the church is built is thought to mark the exact spot where Saint Peter was crucified (upside down).
An alternative theory is that the church is located on the Janiculum Hill because this was named for Janus, who was the God of doors. Saint Peter is supposed to be the person in charge of the keys to the universal church.
Its construction was ordered by France’s King Luigi XI and later by Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella.
The original church belonged to the celestini monks. In the 12th century it was given to the Benedictines and later, by Pope Sixtus IV to the Franciscans. Once it became known that Saint Peter had been crucified here the construction of a new church was ordered, which was consacrated on June 6th, 1500.
The name Montorio refers to the Monte d’Oro or Mons Aureus (“Golden Mountain”), which refers to the yellow color of the earth on the Janiculum hill.
The original church was built in the 11th century.
The architect was Baccio Pontelli, though some parts of the church (the entire bell-tower, parts of the apse and the roof) had to be restored after bombings in 1849.
The façade was probably designed by Meo del Caprina, although some experts think it was the work of architects of the school of Bregno. It consists of two levels. A double staircase leads to the entrance. A Gothic rose window can be seen in the central part of the upper level.
The interior consists of one single nave ending in a polygonal apse. There are four chapels on each side. Another two, bigger chapels form the transept.
Beatrice Cenci, who was beheaded on the Ponte Sant’Angelo after having murdered her father, is buried underneath the High Altar. Her head was also kept in the church, but disappeared in the 17th century after having been used as a football by French soldiers.
Several 17th century Irish tribal chiefs and princes who had escaped to Rome are also buried in the Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio.
Tempietto di Bramante
The courtyard of the church contains the Tempietto di San Pietro in Montorio, which is better know as the Tempietto di Bramante. This martyrium is considered to be one of the architectural masterpieces of the Renaissance period. A martyrium is a mausoleum for martyrs. Bramante‘s creation is characterized by a Doric entablement on top of slender Tuscan columns and is modeled on the Theater of Marcellus.
San Pietro in Montorio works of art
First chapel on the right: The Flagellation and the Transfiguration are by Sebastiano del Piombo. The first one was made with the aid of drawings given to him by his friend Michelangelo.
Second chapel on the right: The fresco “Flagellation” was painted by Pomarancio. Baldassarre Peruzzi painted the “Sybil” and other frescoes werd done by Pinturicchio‘s followers.
The 4th chapels on the right contains ceiling frescoes by Vasari.
The name of the 4th chapel is the Cappella del Monte and contains an altar designed by Giulio Mazzoni. Bartolomeo Ammanati designed the tombs of Cardinal del Monte and Roberto Nobili. The ceiling frescoes were painted by Vasari.
Last chapel on the left: Baptism of Christ by Daniele Volterra.
The Dutchman Dirck van Baburen, a member of the Caravaggisten of Utrecht was responsible for the paintings in the Pietà Chapel, in some cases together with David de Heen. These Caravaggisten were an early 17th century group of painters who had come to Italy and been influenced by Caravaggio.
Second chapel on the left: This so-called Raimondi chapel contains sculptures by Andrea Bolgi and was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The “Crucifixion” above the High Altar is a copy of Guido Reni‘s original, which can be seen in the Pinacoteca in the Vatican.