See the world’s oldest museum with an entryway ticket to Rome’s Capitoline Museums, and admire classical sculptures, mosaics and artefacts from Old Rome, Greece and Egypt. See the famous sculpture of Romulus and Remus under a she-wolf.
- Entry to the Capitoline Museums,
- Entry to the temporary exhibition-s,
- Guided Tour.
Free cancellation up to 1 day before your visit.
The Capitol is the spiritual centre of Rome, just as it was the religious centre of ancient Rome. It stands on a low hill, the Capitoline (one of the seven hills on which the city is built), and its terraces command a vast panorama with a view of the remains of ancient Rome and the buildings of medieval and modern Rome in a wide sweep.
The Capitoline Hill, seized by the Romans from the Sabines, was the scene of the most important historical events which were the glory of ancient Rome. On its two crests stand the Arx Capitolina (at present the site of the Church of Aracoeli), which was a rock dedicated to June, and the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maxims (the remains of which can be seen in the Museum in the Palazzo dei Conservatori). Between the two summits, in the hollow which is now the Piazza del Campidoglio, there was in ancient times the “Asylum”, that is to say the place made accessible to the plebs by Romulus, the first King of Rome, so that they might dwell there in safety. In the course of the centuries, the hill underwent various transformations and alterations, until it took on its present aspect which is mainly the result of Michelangelo’s plan.
The Piazza Campidoglio has on its three sides the Senator’s Palace (in the centre), the Palazzo dei Conservatori (on the right), and the Palazzo dei Musei (on the left). It is reached from Piazza Venezia, leaving on the left the Victor Emmanuel Monument and the remains of an ancient Roman house, and then ascending the central ramp from Via del Teatro Marcello.
This great ramp, leading up to the Piazza, was designed by Michelangelo, like all the rest of the square, to the commission of Pope Paul III. On the way up, there is on the left the Monument to Cola di Rienzo by Masini (1887), commemorating the sacrifice of this son of the people who paid with his life for his dream of restorating to Rome the glory and might of the Republican period. Nearby, in a cage, is kept a she-wolf, symbol of Rome.
At the top of the ramp leading to the Capitol, there are, on either side, the statues of the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, with their horses, together with other statues, including that of Constantine and the so-called Trophies of Marius, i.e. the trophies of arms taken from the Barbarians.
The whole square and the buildings surrounding it were architecturally arranged by Michelangelo between 1546 and 1550. He partially transformed the already existing Senator’s Place, connecting it with the square by means of a large staircase (in part altered and reduced in the execution). He then built the two palaces at the sides (the Palazzo del Conservatori and the Palazzo del Musei), enlivening their faOdes with a powerful order of pilasters, and making them diverge slightly towards the centre in order to bring the palace in the blackground seemingly nearer.
The geometric pattern on the pavement of the square, conceived in the form of expanding and crossing elliptical shapes was also designed by him, and har-monises well with the architecture of the whole. In 1535 Michelangelo took the statue of Marcus Aurelius from the Lateran and set it up in the centre of the square; it is the sole remaining example of the equestrian statues of the Roman imperial period. There are various theories and legends to explain the reasons which made it possible for this monument to come down to us. The main reason, however, is to be found in the fact that it was long thought to represent the Emperor Constantine, the first to allow the practice of the Christian religion.
In the space created by the divergence of the stairs leading to the Senator’s Palace, Michelangelo had a fountain placed with statues representing the Goddess of Rome in the centre, and the Nile and Tiber on either side.
The statue of Rome Triumphant was originally a statue of Minerva, but Pope Sixtus V, who during his pontificate had started a vigorous campaign to revitalise Christianity, threatened to have the Capitol demolished, unless all the statues dedicated to pagan deities were removed. Nevertheless he agreed to have this statue transformed into that of Rome Triumphant, after the goddess’s sword had been replaced by a cross.
The Senator’s Palace: This is at present the official seat of Mayor of Rome. It was built over the ancient Tabularium, erected in the time of the Republic to house all the laws written on “tabulae” (whence the name).
The Senator’s Palace was built on it in the 13th century (the visit to the Tabularium will be described later).
Above the Senator’s Palace rises the 16th century Capitoline Tower: it still contains the Patarine Bell which has been rung for many centuries only on particularly important occasions, such as, for instance, the anniversary of the foundation of Rome (April 21). At the top of the tower a cross was placed as the symbol of the Christianity of Rome. The interior of the Senator’s Palace contains many rooms, of which the most important are: the Hall of the Municipal Council, also called the Hall of Julius Caesar because of a statue of Caesar, dating from 150 A.D.; the Hall of the Banners; the Hall of the Municipal Committee; the Hall of Cleopatra (from the statue of that name).
The Palace of Capitoline Museum: this is to the left of the Senator’s Palace. It is so called because it contains a rich and interesting Museum of classical art.