Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Square) is located on the top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome and designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1538. Roman Divinities were once praised there, while today, it is headquarter of the Italian government. There are three main buildings: Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo dei Conservatori, and Palazzo Nuovo.
Piazza del Campidoglio provides spectacular views over the Eternal City and is home to the Capitoline Museums.
The square revives the ancient records with a modern garment
Historically, the square was created because Holy Roman Emperor Charles V organized a visit to Rome in 1536. Pope Paul III commissioned Michelangelo to design this beautiful square.
Located on the square, Palazzo Senatorio was designed by Giacomo Dalla Porta and Girolamo Rinaldi between 1582 and 1605. Nowadays it serves as a seat of the city municipality.
Talking about Palazzo dei Conservatori, located on the right side of the square, it was built by Guidetto Guidetti and Giacomo Dalla Porta in 1568. There are original artworks of Michelangelo, which you can find in Panicoteca Capitolina (Capitoline Art Museum).
Palazzo Nuovo, located on the left side of the square, was built by the Rinaldi brothers in 1655 and there are also artworks of Michelangelo in the museum with Hellenic and Roman masterpieces.
In the museums on piazza del Campidoglio you can also find the famous statue of She-wolf with the twins Romulus and Remus
Moreover, one of the main features of Piazza del Campidoglio is the Cordonata (graded ramp) staircase that goes up from Piazza d’Aracoeli. Its construction started in 1548, but was finally completed only in 1582 by Giacomo della Porta. There are two lions that flank the foot of the staircase, which are authentic Egyprian statues. Moreover, there are two large statues of the Dioscuri Castor and Pollux at the top of the Cordonata. They originally stood near the Temple of Castor and Pollux, but were placed to the square in 1583. Also, statue on the balustrade near the Dioscuri represents Emperor Constantine and his son Constantine II.
Statue of Marcus Aurelius
The bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius was erected in the center of Piazza del Campidoglio. Today, it is located in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, while there is a replica of the Roman Emperor that stands in the square.
Fontana della Dea
Michelangelo created the fountain in about 1536, which is also known as the “Senate Steps” or “Pallas Kidnapped.” At the beginning, Fontana della Dea wasn’t intended as a fountain because water didn’t reach the square until up to fifty years later. Rather, it considered as a superb ornament in Piazza del Campidoglio. In the centre, there was a statue of Minerva, located in the courtyard of the Capitoline Museums nowadays. The statue was replaced by a smaller one of the goddess Roma triumphans. Also, Michelangelo added two statues representing the rivers Nile and Tigris that originally belonged to the thermal baths of Constantine.
The Romans wanted to change the Tigris to the Tiber and eventually, changed the tiger into a wolf and placed it beside Romulus and Remus
Michelangelo’s aim was to design a square that faces St Peter’s Basilica of the Vatican, instead of the Roman Forum. Today, it offers views of the west side of the city, while from the opposite side it offers views over the Roman Forum. Also, it has an acess to the church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli. Moreover, Michelangelo proposed the construction of Palazzo Nuovo, which would be on the opposite side of Palazzo dei Conservatori. In his opinion, the Palazzo Senatorio had to be redesigned to make all the buildings look harmoniously with each other.
However, the execution of the design went for a long time that Michelangelo dead before his work was completed. Nevertheless, his designs were followed and completed after several centuries.
How to Get
- Bus: 64 and 40 (from Termini Station)
- Metro: Line B, stop: Colosseo and then 10 minutes walking distance
From the founding of Rome and until its fall, which was one thousand years later, the Capitoline Hill served as the epicenter of the Eternal City. Even later during the Middle Ages and nowadays, the site has always been a significant part of the city. Piazza del Campidoglio is a beautiful square in the historic center of Rome with important palazzos and great views of the city.