What You'll See If You Look Through This Famous Roman Peephole

Rome has many tourist spots. From the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain, the city is full of rich history and places to put on your Instagram and boast your #blessed-ness. Rome also has some off-the-beaten-path gems, such as a keyhole.

Yep, a literal hole you put a key in, on a gate in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. The Aventine Keyhole, located in the Aventine Hill neighborhood in Rome's southernmost area, offers one of the most amazing views of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Looking through the keyhole, the basilica looks perfectly framed within the hole. 

It's an unassuming tourist spot, Conde Nast Traveler wrote, as the gate only hides a bunch of hedges and a fantastic view of the basilica. It's not in a central area, but crowds can gather, so if you want to go, don't go in the midday when many people start lining up. And if you have the time, Culture Trip said the gardens inside can be viewed by appointment.

It's not weird looking into this particular keyhole

According to Atlas Obscura, the gate and its keyhole lead into the Priory of the Knights of Malta. The Knights of Malta, a lay religious order, were part of the Crusades. The palace inside used to belong to Alberico II, who ruled Rome from 932 to 954. It passed hands to Benedictine monks who used it as a monastery and then was a headquarters for the Knights Templar before falling into the hands of the Knights of Malta (who were then called Knights Hospitaller).

Culture Trip explained the area was designed to mimic a sacred ship sailing to heaven, so the doors to the palace resemble the entrance to a ship deck. It's unclear, though, if the keyhole was designed to line up perfectly with St. Peter's Basilica, so part of the mystery visiting the keyhole is thinking, "did they do this on purpose?"

If you want to go and take amazing photos of the basilica, Authentic Traveling suggests not using a cellphone because it can blur the background — the actual view — too much. Lighting can also be an issue since you're looking through a literal keyhole, so go in the morning when the light faces the basilica. Plus, the lines are shorter in the morning. If you find yourself in Rome, try to veer off the more crowded tourist spots and peep in a keyhole.