At the center of the intricately designed pavement of the Campidoglio, you'll find this incredible gilded bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius. Considered one of the five "good" emperors, his reign (161-180) marked the end of the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. He was a competent general, a just ruler by Roman standards, and an intelligent guy.
If you saw the movie "Gladiator," Richard Harris played the dying Marcus Aureleus who tried to leave the empire to Maximus - Russell Crowe. But the evil and power-hungry son Commodus, Joaquin Phoenix, had other ideas.
Unfortunately, as in the movie, M. Aureleus was succeeded by his crazy son, Commodus, who became one of the worst emperors. But that's another story.
The sculpture was found in the Tiber River and it's said that the only reason it survived and wasn't melted down to make a church door was because it was assumed to be Constantine, the first Christian Emperer. Lucky for us.
The sculpture in the piazza is a copy; the original (now restored) can be found in a newly-designed museum space in the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini.
The building immediately behind the statue in the photo is the Palazzo Senatorio, now the City Hall of Rome.
In the 16th century. a gem of Roman sculpture was discovered: an equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, emperor, but also philosopher (remember the old emperor in "Gladiator"?). For centuries, this statue will become THE reference for any equestrian sculpture. Such a treasure deserved to be displayed in the best of settings. It just happened that the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was paying a visit to Rome. Worthy of this emperor title, Charles's procession would go on the Capitoline Hill, the Campidoglio. In Roman time, this hill overlooking the Forum, was the center of Roman civic life. Michelangelo was put in charge of the design of the Campidoglio and he started in 1536, once again demonstrating his abilties at multi-tasking (remember, he was a sculptoir, painter, architect and even a poet). You access it walking on gentle flight of stairs that slowly reveals the statue, put in the center and the building of the Campidoglio (now Rome's city Hall). It is graceful and harmonious and it's pure Renaissance style. Although, Michelangelo never saw it finished, his plans have mostly respected. The famous marble "star" design surrounding the statue (you have to go up to the entrance of the City Hall to really admire it) is Michelangelo's design but was finished in the 20th century!
Go behind the City Hall and you'll find ballustrade overlooking the Forum and giving you an extensive view, all the way to the Colosseum.
Oh, little detail... the statue is not the original. The real one has been put in the Museo Capitolino, just next door.
The Campidoglio -- in my opinion, the most beautiful piazza in the world. Another Michelangelo masterpiece.
It sits on top of the Capitoline Hill, the smallest of the seven hills of Rome. The temple to Jupiter, the temple to his wife Juno, the temple to their daughter Minerva, and the Tabularium (the main archives of Rome) were all found here. Now it is home to the extraordinary Capitoline Museum, housed in the two palazzi on opposite sides of the piazza.
Capitoline - hence the English word capitol.
In this photo, you are looking up the fabulous "Cordonata" designed by Michelangelo, the elongated, elegant stairway to the piazza, flanked by sculptures Castor and Pollux at the top. They were the twin sons of Leda and Jupiter. The legend says that Jupiter disguised himself as a swan in order to seduce her. (I never understood why that would have worked.)
The building which appears directly in front of you is the Palazzo Senatorio, which now houses the office of the Mayor of Rome. The Palazzo Senatorio was built on top of the tabularium which you can see if you visit the Capitoline Museum.
Additional surprises and beauty await you as you climb the steps.
Two additional tips on the Campidoglio can be found here: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/67a55/23513/4/?o=1&i=1
Perhaps the biggest attractions on Capitoline Hill are the Capitoline Museums housed in the Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatori. We had decided not to spend too much time in art museums during our trip to Rome, but even so, I still wanted to see Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michaelangelo in the 16th century at the express request of Pope Paul III.
In Ancient Roman times, several important temples overlooking the Roman Forum were built on Capitoline Hill, which came to represent Rome as the "Capital of the World", so to speak. However, as the Roman Empire fell, so did the temples, and the hill was in a rather state when the pope asked Michaelangelo to rebuild it. One of the most radical changes made by the artist was to turn the focus of Capitoline Hill away from the Roman Forum and center it on Piazza del Campidoglio. His elegant Cordonata staircase, flanked by two marble statues of Castor and Pollux, leads up to the piazza. A monumental equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius sits at the center of the piazza. Its presence was more or less imposed on Michaelangelo who somehow had to find a way to make the Ancient Roman bronze statue fit with the Renaissance design he had in mind; he did so by designing a special marble pedestal for it. The statue stands in front of the Palazzo Senatorio, which now houses Rome's City Hall.
Also built on Capitoline Hill is the basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, which is reached by climbing the 124 steps of the Aracoeli Staircase. Although the barren facade of the basilica might not make it seem like it's worth the effort, a pleasant surprise awaits those who are brave enough to burn a few calories. The nave of the basilica is no less than 80 m long and is adorned with 22 Ancient Roman columns; the overall effect is very impressive, no matter how many beautiful churches you've seen during your trip to Rome! The basilica is associated with several legends and miracles, including the apparition of the Virgin Mary and a wooden statue of the Infant Jesus, which is believed to cure terminal illnesses. The miraculous properties of the statue were first acknowledged by Pope Leo XIII in 1894. The original statue was stolen in 1994; it was recovered, but it is kept in the basilica's sacristy. A copy was made to display in the church.
When you are standing on the pavement of the Piazza del Campidoglio, you don't get a real appreciation for the captivating, enveloping, eliptical star pattern Michelangelo created. Though he designed it in the 16th century, it wasn't completed until 1940.
But from the windows of the second floor (called the first floor or "primo piano" in Italy) of the Palazzo Nuovo of the Capitoline Museums, which is filled with ancient sculptures, you can see the beauty of the design. Unfortunately, the windows are usually only open on warm days.
Another way to see the pattern is to use GoogleEarth or GoogleMaps in the sattelite view. It's great for an overall view of the city layout, which can be confusing.
The Palazzo dei Conservatori can be seen behind the copy of the guilded bronze of Marcus Aurelius on horseback. The original of this sculpture is on display in that building, also part of the Capitoline Museum complex.
It could be said that this figure sets the standard for Equestrian statuary. The Piazza and Capitoline Hill is reached by the grand flight of steps known as the "Cordonata", built to a design by Michelangelo especially for the triumphal entry of the Emperor Charles V in 1536. Michelangelo placed the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius on a new pedestal, removed in 1981 for some delicate restoration and currently situated inside the Museo Capitolino. A replica currently stands in the Piazza.
The "Campidoglio" or Capitoline became my favourite piazza in Rome since the Piazza Navona became so touristy and commercial (see my tip).
The arrival by the monumental staircase “Cordonata” drawn by Michel-Angel is a pleasure although the lions, of Egyptian origin, at the entry of the staircase do not project any more wine like “in the good old days”. And then when arriving at the height of the statues of Dioscures one discovers this square also build following a project of Michel-Angelo.
The three palaces are splendid and an amateur of museums like me finds here to enjoy himself (I could not avoid writing 6 reviews about the marvellous collections of the Capitolini museums).
While climbing the stairs I like to see appearing the equestrian statue of Marcus-Aurelius placed there in 1538. Today it is a copy whose restored original is in the Capitoline museums (ref. my tip). The realization of this copy from 1997 called upon elaborate techniques. The restitution of the geometrical shape of the equestrian statue was made through a numerical model.
A splendid discovery is made when following the small streets left or right of the palace of the Senators with the sights on the Foro Romano.
But the pleasure does not stop there; if I want to rest, refresh or nourish myself I go up to the cafeteria "Caffè Capitolino" of the 2nd floor of the museum of the Palazzo dei Conservatori where the Cappuccino is excellent and the sight on Rome superb.
Caffè Capitolino can be reached by a free entrance independent from the museum at piazza Cafarelli (turn right after the stairs and take the short climb). There are tables inside and outside on a terrace. Open: 9 - 20 h. Closed on Mondays
Capitoline Hill is the highest of the fabled seven, and was the pinnacle of ancient Rome's status as leader of the world. Most of the structures from that period have been destroyed or built over but Michelangelo's beautiful, 16th-century Piazza del Campidoglio and the Capitoline Museums are well worth a stagger to the top. With the remodeling of some existing structures, a mathematically clever paving design and addition of a staircase (Cordonata), the great painter, sculptor and architect changed the symbolic orientation of power away from the pagan ruins of the forum and towards the Vatican. Among other sites to visit on the hill are the ruins of ancient Roman apartments and Temple of Jupiter, church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli and the enormous, painfully bright Victor Emmanuel Monument.
Although you can get to the top more than one way, the Cordonata is on Via Del Teatro Di Marcello.
pictured is the capitol, the citadel of ancient rome. the piazza camidoglio was built by pope paul III and was designed by michelangelo in 1546. in the middle of the piazza is a replica statue of marcus aurelius. work continued on this complex of buildings well into the 17th century. the highlight of the capitol is the capitoline museums and the palazzo dei conservatori. the museum has excellent examples of early roman art. in the palazzo dei conservatori you can see the fragments of the statue of constantine from the basilica constantine and maxentius. a must see sight when visiting rome. closed mondays.
We had just finished our adventure through the vestige of the Roman Forum and took the stair up past the Arch of Septimus Severus and wound up at Capitoline Hill. The Capitoline Hill is the smallest of Rome's seven hills, but it was the religious and political center of the city since its foundation more than 2500 years ago. Several important temples were built here: the Temple of Juno Moneta, the Temple of Virtus and the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maxims Capitolinus, the most important temple in ancient Rome. The hill and the temple of Jupiter in particular were the symbols of Rome as Caput Mundi, capital of the world.
During the middle ages, the site was in such bad shape that Pope Paul III Farnese commissioned Michelangelo to design a new square, and Michelangelo responded by designing a highly original piazza whose surface is covered by an intricate geometric pattern. He added a graceful ramp, known as the Cordonata, leading up to the piazza. He rebuilt the facade of the fortress built on the ruins of the Tabularum, a building that became the home of the Senate of Rome. He had the facade of the Palazzo dei Conservatori reworked and left plans for another building opposite, the Palazzo Nuovo, which was built in 1654 with a facade reflecting the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
Michelangelo’s piazza with the Senatorial Palace is seen in the picture. On the right is the Palazzo dei Conservatori courtyard where you'll find a number of ancient sculptures, including a giant head of the emperor Constantine from the basilica of Maxentius. There is also a dedicatory inscription from the Arch of Claudius that celebrates the emperor's conquest of Britain in 43 CE. Across the piazza the Palazzo Nuovo houses the Capitoline Museum which features a number of beautiful and famous ancient sculptures including the "Dying Gaul". At the centre of the piazza is an equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which is a reproduction of the one that stood here for centuries only to be removed a decade ago for restoration and preservation
On a hill overlooking the Roman Forum is Piazza Campidglio much of which was designed by Michelangelo. Surrounding the Piazza on three sides are Renaissance palaces that now constitute the Capitoline Museum.
On the Capitoline hill was the center of the political, social and religues life in Roma.This was the site of the great italic temple dedicated to the Capitoline Jupiter. There are the stairscase with the statue of the Dioscuri and the Palazzo Senatorio. Also there are the Capitoline Museum, which is well known for the fact that is the oldest museum collection in the world.