The Chiostro del Bramante, one of the high points of Renaissance architecture in Rome, was designed by Donato Bramante (1444-1515), who had arrived in the city after the fall from power of his employer Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan, to become the leading architect of Pope Julius II and a fierce rival of Michelangelo.
The Chiostro, or cloister, is the central element of what was originally a monastery complex which also included the adjacent church of Santa Maria della Pace, home of Raphael’s famous Sibyls fresco.
The communal areas were situated on the ground floor and the sleeping quarters on the first. These areas now host cultural events. At the base of each pillar of the upper gallery are stone seats once used by the monks as places to sit and read, converse, or relax. Now visitors to the Chiostro sit immersed in similar activities on the same seats.
The restoration of the Chiostro, or cloister, was completed in 1997 and followed by the renovation of the building’s three floors. The renovation work restored the edifice to its original splendour. Large areas originally part of the convent were restored and opened up to the public, as was the case with the portico on the ground floor, the open gallery on the first floor, the rooms and halls now housing the exhibits, and the various meeting and social function areas, equipped with services such as a reception desk, cafeteria, bistro, bookshop, and museum store.