San Pietro in Montorio is a church in Rome, Italy, which includes in its courtyard the Tempietto, a small commemorative martyrium(tomb) built by Donato Bramante.
The Church of San Pietro in Montorio was built on the site of an earlier 9th-century church dedicated to Saint Peter on Rome’sJaniculum hill. According to tradition, it was the site of his crucifixion.
In the 15th century, the ruins were given to the Amadist friars, a reform branch of the Franciscans, founded by the Blessed Amadeus of Portugal, who served as confessor to Pope Sixtus IV from 1472. Commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.
It is a titular church, whose current title holder, since 1 March 2008, is Cardinal James Francis Stafford.
The so-called Tempietto (Italian: “small temple”) is a small commemorative tomb (martyrium) built by Donato Bramante, possibly as early as 1502, in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio. Also commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella, the Tempietto is considered a masterpiece of High Renaissance Italian architecture.
After spending his first years in Milan, Bramante moved to Rome, where he was recognized by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the soon-to-be Pope Julius II. In Rome, Bramante, was able to study the ancient monuments first hand. The temple of Vesta at Tivoli was one of the precedents behind the Tempietto. Other antique precedents Bramante was able to study in Rome include the circular temple of the banks of the Tiber, believed to be a temple of Vesta. However, the centrally planned church was employed by early Christians for martyriums, an example being Santa Constanza, also in Rome. Bramante would have been aware of these early Christian precedents, and as a result, the Tempietto is circular.
The “Tempietto” is one of the most harmonious buildings of the Renaissance. It is the earliest example of use of the Tuscan order in the Renaissance. Tuscan is a form of the Doric order which stated by Vitruvius is the relationship between the Order and the nature of the divinity to whom the temple is dedicated to. A Doric order is well suited for strong male gods (such as Hercules) so Tuscan was well suited for St. Peter. It is meant to mark the traditional exact spot of St. Peter’s martyrdom, and is an important precursor to Bramante’s rebuilding of St. Peter’s.
Given all the transformations of Renaissance and Baroque Rome that were to follow, it is hard now to sense the impact this building had at the beginning of the 16th century. It is almost a piece of sculpture, for it has little architectonic use. The building greatly reflected Brunelleschi’s style. Perfectly proportioned, it is composed of slender Tuscan columns, a Doric entablature modeled after the ancientTheater of Marcellus, and a dome. According to an engraving in Sebastiano Serlio's Book III, Bramante planned to set it in within a colonnaded courtyard, but this plan was never executed.