The church, belonging to the Sovereign Order of Malta, was completely renovated and re-decorated by Gian Battista Piranesi.
In 1761, Piranesi dedicated the treatise On the Magnificence and Architecture of the Romans to the noble Rezzonico family who, in the person of Cardinal Giovanni Battista, formerly Grand Prior of the Order, in 1764 commissioned him to renew the church, the gardens of the villa, and the square.
In 1765, Piranesi made Santa Maria del Priorato one of the first and most beautiful creations in the neoclassical style, very original in the complex and in the decorative details.
The Venetian artist completely rethought the church, creating a real funeral chamber in honor of the Grand Priors and Grand Masters of the Order of Malta, skillfully mixing the iconography of the Egyptian, Etruscan, and Roman world.
Symbols such as the mortuary sarcophagus, the snake, the skull, the head-down torches, accompanied by the crowned double-headed eagle, the noble coat of arms of the Rezzonos, testify to Piranesi's will to transform this place of worship into its architectural and spiritual testament.
The facade has a single order of four fluted pilasters, luxurious capitals, and a portal surmounted by an oculus and a triangular tympanum. The interior is a Latin cross with lateral niches and an apse and is covered by a rich vault decorated with stuccos.
In 2017, valuable restoration work was carried out that brought to light the original color scheme: the pure white of the stucco, the delicate ocher and the depth effect given by the same colors, all enhanced thanks to the elimination of dust, deposits, and lampblack of candles that have accumulated over time.
A curiosity: the keyhole of the gate of the Priory of the Knights of Malta offers the most famous and suggestive view of St. Peter. Looking through this renowned crack, you can enjoy a fantastic panorama of the dome of St. Peter framed by the hedges of the Priorato gardens.
Open with permission from the Order of the Knights of Malta.
Send an email requesting to book a visit to the "Magistral Villa of the Sovereign Order of Malta" email@example.com
Groups from 10 to 25 people
Entrance fee € 5,00 per person +
Compulsory guide in Italian € 80,00 - in foreign languages € 100,00.
To find out about all accessibility services, visit the Rome accessible section.