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Rome's Top 10 : Musei Capitolini (part 1)

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Capitoline Hill was ancient Rome’s religious heart, and is now home to a magnificent museum. A gently stepped grade, the Cordonata leads you up the hill and provides an unforgettably theatrical experience, just as Michelangelo planned it in the 16th century. At the top you notice the outstretched hand of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, as he dispenses peace from astride his horse. The sides of the star-shaped piazza are graced by twin palaces that contain some of Rome’s greatest treasures. The collections in the Palazzo Nuovo, detailed below, and in the Palazzo dei Conservatori (see Palazzo dei Conservatori Exhibits) were inaugurated in 1471 with a donation of bronzes by Pope Sixtus IV, and have been judiciously added to ever since.

  • Piazza del Campidoglio

  • 06 8205 9127

  • Open 9am–8pm Tue–Sun

  • Adm €6.50 (free EU citizens under 18 and over 65).

  • The Capitolini Card costs €8.50 and is valid for 7 days. The card also gives admission to the Montemartini Art Centre .


Museum Guide

The Palazzo Nuovo, on the left as you enter the piazza, contains mostly restored ancient sculpture. The finest pieces are on the upper floor. Then take the stairs down to the underpass that leads to the Palazzo dei Conservatori (see Palazzo dei Conservatori Exhibits). The courtyard displays ancient marble fragments. The next floor up has 16th- and 17th-century decorations and Classical statuary. On the top floor are Renaissance and Baroque paintings.


Façade, Palazzo dei Conservatori

The café behind the Palazzo dei Conservatori has a wonderful terrace with a spectacular panorama of the city.


Part of the underground passage between the museums is the Tabularium, ancient Rome’s Hall of Records, from which you can get unusual views of the Forum.




Top 10 Features
  1. Hall of the Emperors

    The hall contains several portraits of the emperors and empresses of the Imperial Age. Among them is a bust of the brutal ruler Caracalla from the 3rd-century AD.

  2. Dying Gaul

    The collection’s most renowned piece conveys great pathos. It is probably a 1st-century AD Roman copy of a Hellenistic bronze from the 3rd century BC.

  3. Capitoline Venus

    The shimmering goddess of love gets a room of her own. This fine 1st-century BC copy of a Praxiteles’ Aphrodite from the 4th century BC shows her risen voluptuously from her bath, attempting to cover herself, as if reacting to someone’s arrival.

  4. Mosaic of the Doves

    Originally the centre­piece of a floor decoration in Hadrian’s Villa, this jewel-like composition uses tiny marble and glass chips (tesserae) to achieve a sense of texture and volume.

  5. Marforio

    This hirsute reclining giant was originally a river god, and is believed to come from the Forum of Augustus . A Renaissance sculptor added the attributes of the god Ocean and placed him here, as overseer of this courtyard fountain.

  6. Resting Satyr

    Used to adorn an ancient grove or fountain, this young mythological creature is a copy of a 4th-century BC original by Praxiteles. His pointed ears, panther-skin cape and flute are attributes of the nature-god Pan. The statue inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Marble Faun .

  7. Hall of the Philosophers

    Roman copies of idealized Greek portrait busts of the greatest Hellenic poets and thinkers fill this room, including the blind epic poet Homer.

  8. Cupid and Psyche

    The god of love embracing the personification of the soul, the two lovers are eternally united. This Roman copy of a Hellenistic original has inspired many sentimental variations.

  9. Mosaic of the Masks

    This floor decoration of two Greek theatre masks is probably from the 2nd-century AD. The use of perspective, light and shadow is highly skilled, employing small squares of coloured marble to create dramatic effects.

  10. Drunken Old Woman

    This copy of a Hellenistic original from the 3rd-century BC is from a series of sculptures depicting the wages of vice.

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