Knights of Malta (guided tour in English)
Villa del Priorato di Malta, on the Aventine Hill, is home to the Grand Priory in Rome of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and also hosts the embassy of the Order of Malta to Italy.
The site was already a fortified Benedictine monastery in the tenth century. The monastery passed to the Templars and after the destruction of their order, to the Knights Hospitallers, predecessors of the present Order of Malta. Radical rebuilding was undertaken in the 15th through 17th centuries. The villa was granted extraterritoriality in Protected content Italy..
The Villa is arguably best known for a small hole in the arch-headed central portone, through which the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica, the center of Roman Catholicism, can be viewed at the end of a garden allée framed in clipped cypresses (see the above picture).
The parterre garden links the villa with the Order's Church of Santa Maria del Priorato, an ancient church completely redesigned by Piranesi in Protected content , affording perhaps the earliest example in Rome of Neoclassical architecture. Its facade is capped with a low pediment; paired pilasters on either side of the door have fanciful capitals each formed of a tower flanked by seated sphinxes; other elements of the classical vocabulary are also combined in fanciful and personal ways.
For the tour there should be a minimum of 15 people
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