San Pietro in Montorio

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San Pietro in Montorio

Built by order of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain in 1481 near the spot where medieval tradition believed St. Peter was crucified (the crucifixion site at the Vatican is much more probable), this church is a handsome and dignified edifice. It contains a number of well-known works, including, in the first chapel on the right, the Flagellation painted by the Venetian Sebastiano del Piombo from a design by Michelangelo, and St. Francis in Ecstasy, in the next-to-last chapel on the left, in which Bernini made one of his earliest experiments with concealed lighting effects.

The most famous work here, though, is the circular Tempietto (Little Temple) in the monastery cloister next door. This small sober building (it holds only 10 people and is a church in its own right) marks the spot where Peter was thought to have been crucified. Designed by Bramante (the first architect of the "new" St. Peter's Basilica) in 1502, it represents one of the earliest and most successful attempts to create an entirely classical building. The Tempietto is reachable via the Royal Spanish Academy next door.

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