Gardens of the Priory of Malta
Beyond the world-famous keyhole pointing to St. Peter's dome, a magical garden lies.
Suspended in quietness between the sky and the river Tiber, it has the entire Rome at its feet.
Memories of the Knights Templar linger in this secluded, reserved place.
The Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta is often packed with tourists, striving to get a glimpse of St. Peter's through the celebrated hole in the door. However, the lofty gateway designed by Piranesi opens for few visitors only. Inside, one of the most beautiful sites in Rome stands with its wonders: the garden of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
The palm trees and a six-century-old giant cedar cast their shadows over the silent alleys flanked by perfectly-trimmed hedges, with bright patches of sunlight gently fighting everywhere with all sort of green hues. The ancient priory, with its turreted roof and flagging standard with the illustrious white cross on red field, overlooks the garden with centuries and centuries of history.
The only relic of the Knights Templar in Rome is to be found right here: a well curb bearing an iscription dating to year 1244 with an inscription stating «Petrus Ianue[n]sis, Magister Domor[um] Militie Te[m]pli Rome et Tuscie fec[it]» (“Peter from Genoa, Master of the House of the Knights of the Temple of Rome and Northern Latium built it”). History and legend are always intertwined in magical Rome.
Here is the entrance of the Priorato garden, where is the famous 'View of St. Peter's through the Keyhole', admired by crowds of people... Entering the garden (which can always be visited) we find ourselves in a beautiful avenue of old bay trees framing the distant St. Peter's. A terrace overhanging the Tiber has an enchanting view over the river and town. In the garden is an old pepper-tree, and in a little court a picturesque palm-tree and well... The Priorato garden [is] so beautiful and attractive in itself...
Words from The Grand Tour
Augustus J. C. Hare, "Walks in Rome", 1875
Visitor information
Opening hours:

Ticket price:
Official website:
Visiting tips:
on the Aventine Hill
Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, 4 - Rome
Open on request and selected dates only
Contact email:
5 euro (add 100 euro for official guided tour)
Near the garden, you can also visit St. Mary of the Priory, the fascinating monastery church of the Knights of Malta