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Ancient Rome - The Capitoline Hill





 Ancient Rome - The Capitoline Hill

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Piazza Campidoglio  


       The Piazza Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy

The crown jewel of the Capitoline Hill is its Piazza Campidoglio, which is surrounded by the majestic buildings of the Capitoline Museum.  In the center of the Piazza is a statue (a reproduction) of Marcus Aurelius, emperor of the Roman Empire in the later half of the 2nd century.  The original of the statue is now in the Capitoline Museums.

To ascend to the Piazza, start at the Piazza Venezia  and take the lower steps (the "Cordonatta") to the right of the Monument Vittorio Emanuele II (which dates from the mid-19th century) up to the Piazza Campidoglio.

      Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II in Rome, Italy

The statues at the top of the Cordonatta represent Castor and Pollux, the twins from Greek and Roman mythology who were reputed to have aided the Romans in winning a significant battle.

       The Cordonotta (stairway) ascending to the Piazza Campidolgio

The Piazza reflects its mid -15th century architecture. The stately building in the middle  of the square is the Palazzo Senatorio (now the city hall of Rome) that features a famous double staircase designed by Michelangelo.  On the left is the Palazzo Nuovo  and to the right is the Palazzo dei Conservatori, constructed according to plans developed by Michelangelo.

The amazing Piazza Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy

The buildings are now part of the Capitoline Museums and contain artifacts from Rome's history, although most displays are from the era of the Roman Empire.  Click here for our description of the Capitoline Museums.   There has been a spate of recent construction and renovation of key works at the museum, so be prepared for some galleries to be closed.


Santa Maria in Aracoeli on Capitoline Hill in RomeSanta Marie in Aracoeli, up the 124-step stairway to the left of the Cordonatta, is the official church of the Italian Senate. It is thought that the location occupied by the church sits atop earlier temples and monuments. The present church, which appears to date from the mid 13th century, was built over or incorporated parts of an earlier church that may date from the 6th century.

The interior of the church, which is divided into three, modest naves, has many interesting features by famous artists, but the visitors attention will be attracted by the church's columns that were taken from other ancient buildings and used here. The painted and gilded ceiling  was offered as a tribute to the Blessed Virgin in the  16th century to  commemorate  the crucial sea  Battle of Lepanto (1571), when a coalition of Christian fleets defeated the Ottoman Turk fleet off the shores of western Greece, preventing the Ottomans from invading Rome and southern Europe.

While you are on Capitoline Hill, one of ancient Rome's fabled Seven Hills, do not forget that it offers some remarkable views of the Roman Forums.

     The Roman Forums as seen from Capitoline Hill

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