Tempietto Bramante


The Tempietto, or "little chapel" in Italian, was designed by Donato Bramante, who is considered to be one of the greatest architects of the Renaissance. The Tempietto itself is located in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio in Rome and was built in 1502. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain ruled parts of southern Italy at this time and commissioned Bramante to erect this monument. However, they most likely never realized that it would become a symbol of the Renaissance.
The Tempietto was built to commemorate St. Peter\'s crucifixion and is believed to be the site where St. Peter died. As a result, many Christians not only consider this a sacred site because it is a place of worship, but also because of St. Peter\'s martyrdom. Artistically, the small chapel is regarded as one of the first and finest examples of architecture of the High Renaissance because of characteristics such as simplicity, harmony, symmetry and classical antiquity found throughout the structure. The design of this chapel was inspired by classical antique style temples, specifically Tivoli in Rome and Sibyl in Vesta. Bramante is thought to have chosen a congruous and proportionate style in the Tempietto because of his teacher Piero ella Francesca of Urbino who taught him perfect harmony of all parts and fellow artist, Leonardo da Vinci, who was frequently acquainted with Bramante in Milan and filled notebooks with sketches of the ideal church.
The Tempietto has a dominating circularity theme and was originally forty feet tall. The exterior of the Tempietto is a colonnade of sixteen Doric columns which surround a small cella, or enclosed interior sanctuary. The small chapel has two stories: the first story in the center of the colonnade (the cella) and the second story directly above the first which is surrounded by a circular balcony. Niches are cut out along the outside walls of the second story which help emphasize the solidity and strength of the whole structure because they provide a play of light and shadow on the walls. The original uppermost part of the Tempietto was a semicircular dome. However, the dome now also has a crowning ornament on top of it which was added at a later date and many critics object to this intricate adornment because they believe it destroys the simplicity of the monument. The Tempietto is also considered to be an imposing monument because it presents the effect of alienation; it is elevated on a podium and separated by a small distance from the surrounding environment. In Bramante\'s original designs, the Tempietto was to be surrounded by a second colonnade and the chapel would be centralized and self-contained in this colonnade. However, the colonnade was never erected for reasons unknown.
The Tempietto today is thought to be very simple, harmonious and vital. The original purpose of the Bramante\'s Tempietto was clearly religious because it is a chapel and the site of St. Peter\'s death. However, nowadays the Tempietto is also noted for its elegantly simple reinterpretation of classical forms and consequently is regarded as a symbol of the great artistic time period, the Renaissance.


Millen, Ronald. Renaissance and Mannerist Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1968.

Murray, Peter. The Art of Renaissance. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963.

Westpall, C.W. "Bramante and his Roman Patrons."