The "little temple" seen through the gate enclosing the courtyardIn the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio, where St. Peter was thought to have been crucified, this small temple echoes circular classical temples in Tivoli or in the Forum and elsewhere in Rome. (See the Temple of Venus at Tivoli.) Initially Bramante had planned a circular courtyard as well. The circular plan had a precedent in the early Christian martyrium, which was usually small and centrally planned. Size was unimportant since these temples were memorials, not places of worship.
The classical entablatureHere, unlike many classical precedents, Bramante uses the severe Roman Doric order with alternating metopes and triglyphs. Fifteenth century Italian Renaissance architects had generally preferred the Ionic or Corinthian orders.
Steps and peristyleThe temple is composed of two concentric cylinders--a wide low outer one and a tall narrow inner one--the temple itself. The peristyle and steps circle around the main cylinder.
Views of the peristyle, coffering, and outer wall of the church proper