Capitoline Museums

Rome, Italy

The Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini) are a single museum containing a group of art and archeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill. The historic seats of the museums are Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, facing on the central trapezoidal piazza in a plan conceived by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536 and executed over a period of more than 400 years.

The history of the museums can be traced to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and located them on the Capitoline Hill. Since then, the museums' collection has grown to include a large number of ancient Roman statues, inscriptions, and other artifacts; a collection of medieval and Renaissance art; and collections of jewels, coins, and other items. The museums are owned and operated by the municipality of Rome.

The statue of a mounted rider in the centre of the piazza is of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It is a copy, the original being housed on-site in the Capitoline museum.

Open to the public in 1734 under Clement XII, the Capitoline Museums are considered the first museum in the world, understood as a place where art could be enjoyed by all and not only by the owners.

The Capitoline Museums are composed of three main buildings surrounding the Piazza del Campidoglio and interlinked by an underground gallery beneath the piazza.

Palazzo Senatorio

Palazzo Senatorio was built in the 12th century and modified according to Michelangelo's designs. It now houses the Roman city hall.

Palazzo dei Conservatori

Palazzo dei Conservatori was built in the mid-16th century and redesigned by Michelangelo with the first use of the giant order column design. The collections here are ancient sculptures, mostly Roman but also Greek and Egyptian.

The second floor of the building is occupied by the Conservator's Apartment, a space now open to the public and housing such famous works as the bronze she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, which has become the emblem of Rome. The Conservator's Apartment is distinguished by elaborate interior decorations, including frescoes, stuccos, tapestries, and carved ceilings and doors.

The third floor of the Palazzo dei Conservatori houses the Capitoline Art Gallery, housing the museums' painting and applied art galleries. The Capitoline Coin Cabinet, containing collections of coins, medals, jewels, and jewelry, is located in the attached Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino.

Palazzo Nuovo

Palazzo Nuovo was built in the 17th century with an identical exterior design to the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which it faces across the palazzo.

Statues, inscriptions, sarcophagi, busts, mosaics, and other ancient Roman artifacts occupy two floors of the Palazzo Nuovo.

In the Hall of the Galatian can also be appreciated the marble statue of the Dying Gaul also called and the statue of Cupid and Psyche. There is also a colossal statue restored as Oceanus, located in the museum courtyard and the statue of Capitoline Venus, from an original by Praxiteles (4th century BC).

References:

Comments

Your name



Address

Via delle Tre Pile 1, Rome, Italy
See all sites in Rome

Details

Founded: 1734
Category: Museums in Italy

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Cristiano Coretti (2 years ago)
One of the best museums in Rome. It's worth the visit just only for the Michelangelo's buildings. The Marcus Aurelius statue (a copy is exposed in the outside square) is one of the highlights together with the famous She-Wolf, symbol of Rome
Mark Ellis (2 years ago)
A really outstanding museum. Entering each room full of sculptures and paintings builds on the last. As well as the art on display the building is history - in the courtyard you discover you're standing in the basement of an ancient temple. Hidden secret is underground passage connecting the museum's two buildings - it opens up to a special viewing platform for the Forum. A must for any visit to Rome (plus walk in the footsteps of Tom Ripley - the Matt Damon movie filmed key scenes here)
Vilnis Volkovics (2 years ago)
Great place to spend some quality time,a lot to take in So plan some time to spend there. Worth to visit....by using roma pass either free entry or cheaper than regular. Amazing location near by coliseum and other nice places to see. Definitely recommended place for everyone.
Valeria Atamanova (2 years ago)
Seriously, the best museum in Rome. Plan the whole day, get some patience and just enjoy what is there, and trust me, there is a lot. And the museum is so well organized, such a high quality of everything, with really interesting pieces of art and magnificent view over Forum. Don’t miss it.
Patrick A Sims (2 years ago)
It's just so much to take it that it's impossible to appreciate everything in one visit.. Museum staff are not friendly at all and are not knowledgeable about the exhibits.They generally are disinterested in helping visitors. I can not see what purpose they serve other than security and there are a lot of staff on duty.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.