The cloister (chiostro) of the church of Santa Maria della Pace, the work of Donato Bramante (1444-1514), was funded by Cardinal Oliviero Carafa (1430-1511). Built on a square plan, the cloister is made up of two storeys. The lower storey is a spacious vaulted portico with four arches on each side. The arches are articulated with ionic pilasters. The upper storey is an open gallery with alternating corinthian pilasters and columns and a wooden ceiling.
The most unusual feature of the design is the placing of a column above the centre of each of the ground-floor arches, thus breaking the hallowed rule of void over void and solid over solid.
The dedicatory inscription reads: DEO OPT MAX ET DIVE MARIE VIRGINI GLORIOSE DEIPARE CANONICIS QZ REGVLARIBVS CONGREGATIONIS LATERANENSIS OLIVERIVS CARRAPHA EPS HOSTIENSIS CARD NEAPOLITAN PIE AFVNDAMENTIS EREXIT ANNO SALVTIS CRISTIANE MDIII (God the best and greatest and the blessed Virgin Mary, glorious Mother of God, for the Canons Regular of the Lateran congregation, Oliver Carrafa, Neapolitan, cardinal and bishop of Ostia, devotedly erected from the foundations in the year of Christian salvation 1503).
The frescoes in the lunettes of the ground floor, which depict scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, are the work of Nicola Trometta, who died during the reign of Pope Paul V (r. 1605-21).