The museum is much more than a display of antique statues. On the first floor are richly decorated rooms used for the meetings of the Conservators (magistrates). The decoration of these apartments consist of frescoes, carved ceilings, stuccoes, tapestries and has for main theme the history of Ancient Rome, from its foundation to the Republican Age. The earliest frescoes go back to the 16th century.
The most imposing room is that of the Horace's and Curiaces so called because its walls are decorated of a series of historical frescos due to Cavalier of Arpino.
The first, on the left of the entry, is that of the combat of the Horace's and Curiaces.
I recognize that according to my Latin readings of Tite-Live and his “De Viris Illustribus” I saw that fight of the sole Horace, left unscathed after the first combat, against the three Curiaces brothers wounded to various degrees, in a different way. In my imagination there was much more space than what the painter represented on the wall.
This room comprises also two monumental statues, that of the Pope Urbain VIII out of marble by Bernin and that in bronze of Pope Innocent X by Algarde. This is a masterly work.
There are two antic statues at this museum which are surprising.
One is the "Baby Hercules" in black marble of room VI at the Palazzo Nuovo.
This colossal statue about 2 m high of Hercules represented as a somewhat chubby kid is funny with his pelt of a lion in hands. Don't laugh too much, he developed in a strong feared man as you can see from the gilded adult statue in the Marcus Aurelius exedra.
The other surprising statue is the Diana of Ephesus, a white marble statue with extremities in bronze showing flowers, bees and other symbols of fertility.
Quite relax is the colossal statue of the Marforio above the fountain in the courtyard of the Palazzo Nuovo. He was one of the "speaking statues" of Rome in the Middle Ages, nowadays Marforio remains silent but it seemed to me that he had a mocking expression each time tourists had themselves photographed by his fountain.
The creation of this museum goes back to 1471 and a donation of bronzes by Pope Sixtus IV. Housed in two palazzos on either side of Piazza del Campidoglio - on top of Capitoline Hill - and connected by an underground gallery, Capitoline Museum focuses on pieces that have originated from or have special significance to Rome. Palazzo Nuovo is almost exclusively for sculpture and where you'll find likenesses of emperors, philosophers, mythological figures and important citizens. A friend of mine calls it "That place with all the heads"! Palazzo dei Conservatori is much larger and has a wider range of works - paintings, tapestries, frescos - as well as sculpture.
It has a very good website that highlights the most important works. The museum is closed on Mondays: check the site for current hours and entry fees. Advance tickets are possible but probably not necessary.
The piazza at the top of the steps and in front of the Capitoline Museum was designed by the famous master sculptor, Michelangelo, who was also a famous painter and architect. Commissioned by Pope Paul III with the thought to give this part of Rome more importance, he called on Michelangelo for the design. Michelangelo was in his later years – long after he had painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The Florentine was now a citizen of Rome and was currently at work on another part of the Sistine Chapel – the painting of the Last Judgement on the wall behind the altar.
The piazza design is likened to a small town with three buildings and a large staircase surrounding the equestrian statue in the center. The statue, a replica of the original one which Pope Paul III had moved to the space, depicts Marcus Aurelius on his horse. The original famous bronze (gilded) statue can be found in the nearby Capitoline Museum in the hall named after the statue.
We arrived at the piazza by climbing the tall steps (not to be confused with the larger, taller steps to the nearby church) which are flanked by two statues of Casator and Pollux with their horses. These statues were found in the 16th century in the nearby Ghetto area where there used to be a temple dedicated to the two men. On either side of the steps is the balustrade that was designed by Michelangelo. Near the balustrade are additional sculptures of enemy arms and amour captured by Roman generals.
The star design of the piazza was not designed by Michelangelo, who designed an oval with a herringbone pattern. The current redesign dates back to only 1940.
After enjoying the piazza, be sure to walk around the central building behind the equestrian statue. A walk to the right will bring you to a spectacular view of the Roman Forum and a walk to the left will give you a similar view but with a close up of the arch of Septimius Severus. Each of these views is free and makes a great photo opportunity. I found the afternoon lighting to be perfect for photos when we were there.
In a former tip about the bronze statues of this museum I wrote: The Roman she-wolf "Lupa Capitolina" is dated from the 6th century BC but the twins Romulus and Remus were added during the Renaissance.
In 2008 a study of Carbon 14 dating of the dirt and clay pieces from the statue indicated that the statue was cast in the 8th century A.D and might therefore be a copy of an Etruscan bronze!
This study has itself been criticized by both experts in Etruscan and Roman history but also by experts from the carbon-14 dating. It is a delicate method as pollution risks distorting the dating.
Since it's likely that the statue has been manhandled over the years, carbon dating tests could have no relevance regarding the time when it was created, explained archaeologist Nicoletta Pagliardi.
The age of the Lupa Capitolina statue is therefore still under discussion.
There is another question about the famous Lupa.
Any good tourist has learned that the foundation of Rome goes back to Romulus and Remus -precisely in 753 BC (!!!) according to Marcus Varron called "the most learned of the Romans" - and that they were children of the princess Rhea Sylvia and the god Mars himself. The princess Rhea was the daughter of the king Numitor of Alba.
Just like Moses the two babies were put in a basket and entrusted to the floods to escape death and were rescued by a she-wolf, the famous Lupa which became the symbol of Rome.
But in Latin the word Lupa has two significances: she-wolf and prostitute! In French the word "lupanar" derived from the latin "lupa" means brothel.
Now who saved our two cherubim's, a she-wolf or a prostitute?
This beautiful hill is situated behind the monument to King Victor Emmanuel II. The square and buildings on the hill were designed by Michelangelo. The famous Capitoline Museum is located here. There are several statues here such as a replica of Romulus and Remus being fed by a she wolf, the statue of Marcus Aurelius (the originals of these are in the museum). There are also statues of Castor and Pollux and some Egyptian lions. At the back of the hill there are great views over the forum. To the left of the hill up a separates taircase is the beautiful Church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli with its lavish golden ceiling. A choir was singing inside when I visited. Exit the church and go right and you are on the free viewing platform of the Victor Emmanuel Monument.
Capitoline Hill is the smallest of Rome's seven hills but has always been very important. Several temples were located here.
If you are an amateur of ancient sculptures you will find here very fine pieces coming mainly from private collections belonging to high-ranking churchmen and noble Roman families.
Among the marble statues I did admire is the very famous "Galata Morente" (Room VIII, Palazzo Nuovo). The English translation of "dying Gaul" is confusing because the Galates were Celtics living in Asia Minor (far away from the "Galli" Gaul's of the present France). The statue is a copy of a bronze statue from the school of Pergamo (3-2nd c. BC) it is one of the most beautiful pieces of the antic art.
In the large room VI of the same Palazzo Nuovo are five masterpieces of black marble among which the "Old Centaur" and the "Young Centaur" of an extraordinary technique are my preferred. They were found at the Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli as well as another highlight of the museum, the red marble statue of a "Faun".
But these are just a few among many good statues. I also liked that elegant statue of Hygeia and the portrait in marble of a lady with an imposing wave hairdressing which was typical for the family of the Severi Emperors.
Closed: Monday, 25/12, 1/01 and 1/05.
Price (2012): 12 €, reduced 10 €.
Best known, of course, is the Lupa Capitolina or She-wolf (Why is there no specific English word for a female wolf like in other languages!?). This famous Etruscan bronze statue (room VII Palazzo dei Conservatori) of the emblem of Roma goes back as far as the 6th c. BC. The twin brothers Romulus and Remus were added during the Renaissance period. There is a lot of controversy about the age of the "Lupa Capitolina". Carbon-14 dating would indicate that the statue is from the 7th - 8th century AD.
A most beautiful statue is that of the Spinario: "Boy removing thorn from foot". Certainly one of the most gracious statues of all times, it is probably an original Greek work of the 1st c. BC. (room VI). In the same room, I very much liked the bust of consul Junius Brutus dating from the 3rd c. BC. (nothing to do with the Brutus who killed J. Caesar). Have you seen the expression of the eyes!
I also admired a bronze statue of a horse of the 5th c. BC which is being restored. What a perfection!
Open: 9 - 20 h. Closed: Monday, 25/12, 1/01 and 1/05.
Price (2012): 12 €, reduced 10 €.
If you have only time to visit one museum in Rome I advise you this one.
You will not be waiting in a long line as with the museum of the Vatican and you will see very famous pieces of the Antique art. Moreover the site of the museum is one of most beautiful of Rome.
In fact there are 3 museums on Piazza Campidoglio. They are called "Musei Capitolini" and belong to the city of Rome. The sole entry is on the right by the “Palazzo dei Consevatori”. Here on two floors and about thirty rooms is the main part of the collections. The most outstanding artefacts are statues of bronze or marble of the ancient Rome. Most known are “the She-wolf”, “the Spinario” and the equestrian statue of Marc-Aurelius.
By an underground gallery the visitors reach, after a right turn, the arcades of the antique “Tabularium”, located under the "Palazzo dei Senatorio" and present town hall, from where one has imposing sights on the Foro Romano and the Palatine hill.
By this same underground the visitors join, on the other side of the Piazza Campidoglio the “Palazzo Nuovo” which comprises a dozen rooms with statues of which most known are the “Faun” and “the dying Gaul”.
The exit of the Capitoline Museums is by this palace.
The collections of statues and archaeological artefacts of the “Musei Capitolini” were made up as from 1471 by the Popes and Roman important families like the Horti and the Castellani. The Pinacotheca, art gallery of the second floor was founded by Pope Benoit XIV in the 18th century. There is also a cabinet of currencies and medals.
Open (2012): 9 - 20 h. Closed: Monday, 25/12, 1/01 and 1/05. (This year closed 24/12 and 31/12)
Price: 12 €, reduced 10 €.
Nice cafeteria with terrace on the 2nd floor.
The Capitoline Museums are a group of art and archeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill. The museums are contained in three palazzi surrounding a central trapezoidal piazza in a plan conceived by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536 and executed over a period of more than 400 years.
Piazza del Campidoglio, Capitol Hill, Rome
Phone 06/39967800 (Information)
67102475 (Director's Office)
Opening hours Tuesday-Sunday: 9.00 am - 8.00 pm; December 24 and 31: 9.00 am - 2.00 pm (last admission 1 hour before closing time).
Closed Monday, December 25, January 1, May 1.
The ticket office is situated on the Piazza del Campidoglio, on the ground floor of the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
"Museum + Exhibition" Combined Ticket:
- Adults: € 12,00;
- Concessions: € 10,00;
- Ridottissimo special price: € 2,00;
Roman Citizens only (by showing a vaild ID):
- Adults: € 11,00;
- Concessions: € 9,00;
- Ridottissimo special price: € 2,00;
"Capitoline Museums + Centrale Montemartini + Exhibition" Combined Ticket:
- Adults: € 14,00;
- Concessions: € 12,00;
Roman Citizens only (by showing a vaild ID):
- Adults: € 13,00;
- Concessions: € 11,00;
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