It is not often that a keyhole becomes a tourist attraction, but this is certainly the case for that of the Villa del Priorato di Malta in Rome. Indeed, when looking through it, one can see the perfectly framed dome of St Peter’s.
Knights of Malta Keyhole Rome
Address: Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, 3 – Rome. The square is open 24/7. However, if you go during the busiest times of the day, a 30 minute wait is no exception.
History and description
The view through the keyhole is made even more beautiful by also seeing a straight avenue with bushes that also seem to perfectly frame the dome. This path belongs to the gardens of the villa, owned by the famous Knights od Rhodes.
This order is one of the few knightly orders that were not dissolved after the time of the Crusades. Contrary to what one might expect, their headquarters are not in Malta itself, but in Rome, in the Via Condotti, the city’s most expensive shopping street.
The villa itself serves as the Order’s Embassy to both the Italian State and the Vatican (meaning the Order is recognized by Italy as a sovereign state).
The square in which the building is located was designed by Piranesi in 1765.
Since you are in Italy, and you are looking at the Vatican City, and you are looking through the grounds of the Order of the Knights of Rhodes, you are actually looking at three different countries at the same time.