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The Roman keyhole with the viewpoint of three different sovereign states

2016-06-05

Do you know what all these people are lining up for?And why they are taking pictures in front of a door?

The answer is in this small keyhole. Look how unique it is, with the dome of St. Peter's as the center focus behind these gardens.

This is the Villa of the Grand Priory perched on the Roman Aventine Hill and it has belonged to the Order of Malta for over 700 years.

ENRICO FLORIDI
Embassy of the Order of Malta
"It is a continued tourist attraction because there are three sovereign states seen from the hole: the Order of Malta, owner of the Villa; the Italian State, and the dome of St. Peter's with the Vatican as the background. It is quite interesting this does not happen in other countries."

The Italian garden has low hedges made of boxwood, but not only that, also included is the Villa Magistral, headquarters of the Embassy of the Order of Malta to Italy, and the Chapter Room, where the grand masters are chosen from the Order, in a style somewhat reminiscent to the Vatican conclaves.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta was born more than nine centuries ago during the Crusades. It is based in Rome and is recognized as a subject of international law. Today its charitable work is essential and it's currently helping out with the refugee crisis.

MARIANNA BALFOUR
Order of Malta
"Over the past 900 years, the Order of Malta has conducted humanitarian assistance activities. Now it engages in projects of a medical-social nature in 120 countries and has diplomatic relations with 106 countries, including the United Nations and the European Union.”

The lengthy history of the Order can be seen in its church, dedicated to St. Mary of the Aventine. These flags belonged to the knights of the fifteenth century and represent the ancient kingdoms at the time.

The church, as it's seen today, is newer, dating back to the eighteenth century. It was built in the homogeneous and particular style of architect Giambattista Piranesi, who left his greatest work here: the redesign of the entire complex and the square.

ENRICO FLORIDI
Embassy of the Order of Malta
"This church has existed for many centuries, but by the order of Cardinal Rezzonico, the nephew of Pope Clement XIII, Piranesi built the facade from scratch and redid the interior with his particular stucco style.”

It is a style that is reflected in the altar, which was recently restored to clean up the mess that accumulated over the years. It represents the elevation of Saint Basil, one of the protectors of the Order, rising to heaven on a sphere representing the Earth. At his feet lies the crypt which houses the tombs of the last two Grand Masters.

It is a privileged place where one can contemplate the Eternal City and maintain the prestige of an institution that remains alive and active despite the passing of centuries.


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