Exclusive Tours of Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi in Rome
Explore the breathtaking beauty of Rome's hidden gem!
The Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi is exclusively accessible by appointment and features a stunning loggia with views of the Roman Forums. It has served as the home of Popes and Cardinals.
A Brief History of the Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi
“There is a very suggestive residence among the numerous and sumptuous residences that popes and cardinals had in Rome over the centuries: the Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi, easily recognizable to most thanks to the exclusive loggia overlooking the Imperial Forums, a short distance from Trajan’s Markets and exactly above the Forum of Augustus.
The Origins of the Residence
“It goes without saying that this significant residence has a long history. In truth, it appears that it all started in the Middle Ages when a group of religious men, later known as the Knights of Malta, decided to come and live in this section of the city, intending to build their residence on the ruins of Augustus’ temple dedicated to Mars Ultor, the “avenger.” Instead, it wasn’t until a few centuries later, in the mid-1400s, at the request of a cardinal, Marco Barbo, nephew of Pope Paul II, that the structure began to take on the appearance of an exquisite and prestigious Renaissance structure.
Changes and Additions in the Renaissance
“Thus, the cardinal organized his dwelling around the two halls of representation and receptions on the main level, the Hall of Honor and the Sala della Loggetta: the chambers were painted with murals, and the wood-clad ceilings can still be seen today. Cardinal Barbo, once again, desired that the building be enhanced with an outstanding loggia directly overlooking the Imperial Forums, placed on the second story of the house and the undoubted jewel of the entire residence.”
The Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi Today
“Its walls were extensively covered with paintings depicting magnificent vistas of florid and luscious landscapes, which are still plainly visible to the visitor in all their glory despite the numerous difficulties they faced over the ages. These stunning frescoes were most likely made by the same key craftsmen who were also working at the nearby Palazzo Venezia, which was under the patronage of the influential Pope Paul II.
“However, the Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi’s shocks do not stop there. You descend from the Hall of Honor to the residence’s underground level by a very ancient staircase that belonged to an insula from the Roman Empire leaning against the Forum of Augustus, the drainage channel of which is still plainly visible to the side of the steps of the waters. Once you reach the present level of the external road, take a few more steps down to the underground environment where the Palatine Chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist, patron saint of the Order of the Knights of Malta, was created in modern times. The posh residence’s owners. It was built in the courtyard of the aforementioned Roman insula and retains the courtyard’s huge travertine arches, which divide the chapel into three modest naves. The access arches of the ancient stores, which were always positioned on the ground floor in Roman insulae, may also be seen on the inner wall.
Restoration and Current Use
“The chapel was constructed in the contemporary age, just after the end of World War II, when the architect Guido Fiorini was commissioned to restore and recover the entire home. In fact, after Cardinal Marco Balbo, the structure was rented out to several owners until it was completely occupied by the Dominican nuns of the Ss. Annunziata in the 1600s, who made numerous and significant alterations over the ages.”We know, for example, that they erected multiple small rooms inside the loggia, which was effectively walled up, as well as removing the valuable fresco decoration along the walls and converting the now-underground chamber into a laundry room.
“And, in light of Mussolini’s great demolition works, which invested the entire Forums area during the 1930s, the architect Fiorini was commissioned to recover the ancient rooms of the house, up to the construction of the Palatine Chapel, in which was set up a precious polychrome marble altar, further embellished by Alfredo Biagini’s bronze sculptures. The entire mansion was restored to the Knights of Rhodes at the end of the work, and it is now the representative office of the association of Italian-speaking Knights.
Visiting the Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi
“It is difficult to gain access to this elite residence. But don’t be concerned. During the unique opening with the Golden Donkey on Saturday, November 28 at 11:00, a special guided tour with a concluding toast is planned in the Salone delle Cariatidi! During our journey, we will also get the opportunity to see two normally closed-to-the-public rooms: the Antiquarium of the Palatine Chapel and the Byzantine Room on the main level. In a nutshell, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”