Capitoline Museum in Rome, exhibitions and photos

Capitoline Museums in Rome

The famous hills on which the city of Rome was built have stored, and will do so forever, their interesting history. It was often born in archaeologists’ excavations, ruins, and preserved landmarks. Capitoline Hill, where meetings of the ancient Senate were held, the temple of the gods of the ancient Romans towered, conceals amazing evidence of the city’s and country’s past. The Capitoline Square in Rome, which is located at the highest point of the hill, and is now considered its main square. The eternal Capitoline she-wolf, named a symbol of the city, attracts tourists with its ancient legend to hear a fascinating story. See the riches in the museum firsthand.


Architectural masterpieces of museums are palaces designed around the perimeter of the famous square, with stored in their halls, works of art, ancient artifacts. The ancient structures, towering on the hill, were destroyed, looted, burned. Only in 1536, by decrees of King Charles V, did the Capitol life began to revive. The great Michelangelo Buanarotti was entrusted with the task of creating the new ensemble. At that time he was the chief court architect and painter. He was commissioned to create the palaces to house the collection given by Pope Sixtus IV around 1471.

These represented famous works of art, jewelry, medieval and Renaissance coins. Many, such as the unique bronze statues, came from the collection of the palace of the famous Lateran family.

Architectural treasures designed by Michelangelo formed the core of the complex. These are the two palaces of the Palazzo Conservatori, Nuovo. As well as the Capitoline Square itself. The master’s ingenious idea helped create a small space in the shape, open to view, of a trapeze. The paved, elliptical piazza has a strong optical effect that expands its boundaries. Michelangelo’s followers finished the construction in 1654.

The main structure of the square is the Palace of the Senators. The building is surrounded on both sides by the Capitoline Museum, an architectural marble representation of the Nile, the Tiber. Water arteries that gave life to many inhabitants of the planet, the Palace of Conservators. Works of Michelangelo, according to art historians, hide encrypted messages, mysteries. The unraveling of many is yet to come. In the central part of the square stands a statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. A rare treasure, reborn from ancient times.

Museum buildings and exhibits

To get here there is no need to book a ticket in advance, standing in a long line. You can just come for a walk, admire the grandeur of the buildings, the unique design of the square. The three buildings of the museum complex, connected by an underground gallery, are filled with a variety of collections of paintings, sculptures, exhibits from the Roman Empire, the Etruscans, etc. For a tour you can see the riches of the palaces. But to learn the history, to look closely at the stored treasures, you can not.

The Palace of the Senators, built in the twelfth century, Palazzo Conservatori, Nuovo, which appeared in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, contains a huge number of valuable exhibits. Among them are the unique art galleries with works by Caravaggio, Titian, Tintoretto, etc. Ancient statues, mosaics, works of art from the Baroque and Renaissance styles. The complex was supplemented by a small Caffarelli-Clementino Palace in the XX century. Among the unique collection of sculptures kept in the Capitoline Museum are the following world masterpieces.

Capitol She-wolf.

Capitoline Museum, Rome

This is a worthy symbol of Rome, reflecting the myths of the country. The most confirmed date of the monument is considered to be 1021-1153. The statue is made of bronze. For many years it was thought to have been made by the Etruscans in the 5th century B.C. Information from the monk’s notes suggests that at first the she-wolf without her newborn brothers was in the Lateran palace near the court, the so-called place of execution by the “she-wolf”. It was a deity or “mother of the Romans.”

By order of Sixtus IV she was moved to the Palazzo Conservatori in 1473. Figures of infants appeared at the end of the XV century. They are made in a different manner. A copy of the She-wolf is mounted high on a column to the left of the central museum. There are similar copies in different countries. For example, Romania, where they are considered a symbol of world heritage. Next to the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. In Pisa, New York, Paris.

Dying Gaul.

Capitoline Museum, Rome

Marble copy made from the original bronze, commissioned by Emperor Attalus I around 230 B.C. as a sign of victory over the Gauls’ army. The statue is attributed to Epigonus, a sculptor of the Attalid dynasty. There is a version that confirms that the creation was discovered during the construction of a villa in Rome, then purchased by Pope Clement XII and kept in the Palazzo Ludovisi.

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During the Napoleonic War, the statue was taken to France. There the work was exhibited as a piece of art in the Louvre. The sculpture’s dramatic, naturalistic quality places it at the pinnacle of ancient art. The naked figure of the Celtic warrior on his shield portrays the pain and anguish of his fatal defeat.

Capitol Brutus.

This bronze sculpture of a portrait of a man is considered an Etruscan creation, born at the beginning of the 3rd century BC. It was found among the excavations of Rome around 1500. The similarity of the portrait with Brutus, depicted on Roman coins, led to the assumption that he was the founder of the Roman Republic. The sculpture was found in its original form without damage. The hair, forehead, cheeks, and inlaid eyes were fully preserved. Some of the clothing was made anew in the style of the Roman emperors.

A boy pulling out a splinter.

In the ceremonial hall of the Capitoline Museum is a bronze sculpture of a boy sitting on a rock, pulling a thorn out of his left leg. The statue never disappeared in the historical storms of the Middle Ages, remaining available for viewing. There are legends explaining the statue’s appearance. One believes that the boy was a shepherd sent to the Romans to warn them of an enemy attack.

Enduring pain in his leg from a splinter, the boy climbed the hill, did his duty with dignity, pulled out the splinter, and died. The sculpture from the Renaissance was one of the first to be copied at the behest of the wealthy. Marble versions of the original are kept in the Medici collection, the British Museum, the gallery in Pavlovsk, the composition of Nikitsky Botanical Garden.

Colossus of Constantine

Colossus of Constantine in the Capitoline Museum, Rome

Extant parts of the giant-sized portrait statue depicting the seated Emperor Constantine the Great are preserved in the Capitoline Museum. The statue is believed to date from the reign of Constantine. The head of the statue is almost 2.5 metres high. The sizes of feet, hands give grounds to believe that the total height of the statue reached 12 meters. The body of the statue was made of marble. The clothes were made of wood covered with gilt, bronze (acrolite technique).

The statue was originally located next to a public place near the Basilica of Maxentius, Constantine, symbolizing the divine authority of the state. It is assumed that the statue was damaged by Vandals. The ancient masterpiece acquired a new life by 1486.

Now fragments of the statue, located in the palace courtyard, are in order: right arm, knee, head, museum passage, column. Then the left leg. There are two different fragments of the right arm. This is explained by the remaking of the statue at the end of the reign of Constantine. The hand holding the scepter was replaced.

Palazzo dei Conservator

Palazzo della Conservatorio, Rome

Palazzo dei Conservatori is similarly named to the hall of judges, senators or conservatory. Important decisions of the ruling powers of the country were made here since the 15th century. The palace now houses a collection of marble sculptures, preserved from the ancient Roman period. The rooms are furnished with the famous frescoes, Pinacotheca with paintings by Caravaggio, Rubens, Velázquez, and the legendary Capitoline She-wolf. Artifacts of the Greeks and Etruscans are in the Castellani Hall along with a remarkable collection of red-figure black-figure Greek vases.

The famous fresco depicting a battle between the Curiae and the Horatii, statues of Urbanus and Innocent X are in a special room. In the Palazzo are open the Conservatory halls, the New Museum and the Picture Gallery. The exterior design of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, famous for the original architectural techniques in the form of pilasters located on different floors.

They were later used in buildings of different times by many countries (for example, one of the railway stations in Moscow). The first building of the palace was erected in the middle of the XV century. The facade was decorated with arches framing the six windows on the first floor. Now some of them have been preserved. The harmonious façade was finished much later.

Palazzo Nuovo

The palace belongs to the new architectural structures of the ensemble of the XVII century. Construction of the palace began in 1571 and ended around 1654. Michelangelo’s ideas were carried out by Giacomo Della Porta, Girolamo Rinaldi and Carlo Rinaldi. It is a replica of the Palace of the Conservators, intended to serve as a public museum since 1734. The palace has been called Rome’s first public museum. Sarcophagi, statues, busts, masterpieces of ancient art such as Cupid and Psyche, statues of Venus of the Capitol, the Dying Gaul, ancient mosaics can be seen in the spacious halls of the two floors of the palace.

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More than a hundred ancient sculptures of gods, heroes are placed in the Gallery of the palace. The rooms of the Palazzo have original names, such as the Hall of Doves, Faunus, philosophers, gladiators, emperors, the cabinet of Venus. In the courtyard is the marble “Talking Statue” Fountain of Marforie, created in 1588. Nearby the inhabitants of the ancient city used to gather to voice their grievances about worldly matters.

Senators’ Palace

The exterior of the ancient palace, conceived by Michelangelo the Great, has been preserved in its original form since 1605. The site, surrounded by the Capitoline Square and the Roman Forum, has always been at the center of the city’s political life. As early as 78 B.C. the Tabularium, the archive of the state, was located here. The structure, dilapidated in the Middle Ages, has been restored and altered. A beautiful staircase with a fountain and the sculpture “Jubilant Rome”, statues representing the Nile and the Tiber gave a different appearance to the palace. The facade was decorated with Baroque elements. The lower part of the Tabularium and the two side towers were preserved. In 1582 the Bell Tower appeared, replacing the medieval structure.

Nowadays we can see the halls of the City Hall (Hall of Flags), the Council Hall (in it there is a sculpture of Julius Caesar, made in the I century B.C.). The Capitoline Protomoteca, a collection of busts. In the palace are held meetings of the City Hall. Many of the rooms are not allowed to be seen. The Lapidarium, which keeps ancient stone slabs with ancient inscriptions, is free to visit.

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, Rome

The fate of many ancient statues has not been as fortunate as this one. This is often attributed to the casual assumption that the ancient sculpture belonged to Emperor Constantine. He made Christianity the official religion of Rome, stopping the destruction of ancient artifacts at the behest of the church during the Middle Ages. The original statue of the emperor is in the Capitoline Museum, and its majestic copy adorns the center of the ancient square.

The statue is believed to have been made in the 180s by an unknown artist. The pedestal of the statue is made of the columns of the temple of Castor, Pollux. The reign of Marcus Aurelius (Marcus Antonius Catilius Severus) was called the golden period of ancient history. Originally the statue, in the form of the emperor sitting on a bronze horse, gesturing to the troops to celebrate another victory, stood on the slope of Capitoline Hill. Since 1538 it has gained a place on the Capitol.

Palazzo Cafarelli-Clementino

The building is located next to the three main palaces of the Capitoline complex. It is an example of sixteenth-century civil engineering architecture. In the areas of the building are organized four interesting exhibitions:

  • Coin Museum. It keeps about 20 thousand rare types of coins, ancient seals, medals
  • The Hall of Frescoes. Or “St. Peter’s Hall.”
  • The Fronton Hall. Here are preserved remnants of the decoration of the ancient Roman temple of Jupiter, which stood in the II century BC, the scene of animal sacrifice to Mars
  • Santarelli Collection in the form of a collection of stones, intaglios, artworks made of stone from the XY to the XIX century. Together with a guided tour you can learn about the ancient methods of processing precious stones in detail.


The three museum buildings were joined together by a huge underground tunnel, laid in the depths of the square in 1930. The Lapidary Gallery (Conjunzione) with its interesting artifacts is a popular place for tourists. Here are the ruins of the ancient dwelling of the Romans, a collection of ancient inscriptions on the stones. The entrance is located at the famous Roman Forum.

Opening times and ticket prices

There are always many people wishing to visit the palaces of the Capitoline Museum. Therefore, it is better to book tickets in advance. There is a single comprehensive ticket that entitles you to visit all the places of interest. Price of full ticket is 15 €, reduced price about 12 €. The museum is open every day except Monday and Sunday from 9 am to 8 pm.

Where to go and how to get there

A half-hour walk from the Colosseum, next to the Roman Forum, on Capitoline Hill at Piazza del Campidoglio are the museum buildings. You can take the subway line B, get off at Colosseo station. By bus, take lines 30, 170, 810, and 85 to the Ara Coeli-Piazza Venezia stop. Or take the streetcar 8 to the last stop Piazza Venezia.

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Capitoline Museums in Rome

Capitoline Museums in Rome

In Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome’s Capitoline Museums is one of the oldest public museums in the world, part of a magnificent architectural ensemble and a project of genius Michelangelo di Lodovico di Leonardo di Buonarroti Simoni.

In the numerous rooms of the museum you can find astonishing collections of sculptures of Ancient Rome from Ancient times as well as paintings, ceramics, mosaics, jewelry and coins.

The foundation of

For its time the progressive idea of creating a public museum belonged to Pope Sixtus IV, who in 1471 decided to make art accessible not only to the aristocracy but to all citizens of Rome.

To display the first exhibits, the Vatican president chose bronze antique statues from his personal collection in the Laterano Palace, which symbolically recalled the greatness of ancient Rome: fragments of the statue of Emperor Constantine I the Great, the sculpture Cosiddetto Spinario and the Lupa Capitalino (she-wolf of the Capitoline).

The place for displaying the first small collection was chosen very symbolically – at the top of the main of the seven hills of Rome – the Capitolin (Monte Capitolin). It was the religious center of the Eternal City, where in ancient times stood the Temple of Jupiter – the Romans’ greatest sanctuary, and later hosted Roman state archives (Tabularium) and the Republican Mint. The remains of ancient buildings can be seen inside the Capitoline Museums and nearby in the open air.

In the XII century, the hill was given a special significance by the erected Palace of Senators (Palazzo Senatorio), also known as the Capitol, which became the place for meetings of the Roman Senate, the main body of government.

The antique sculptures donated by Sixtus IV were exhibited for decades in the open air on the facade and in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori before being transferred to the halls.

Additions to the collection

The collection of ancient artifacts assembled in the Palazzo dei Conservatori grew rapidly, especially in the first century. All newly found ancient works of art in Rome were flocked to the Capitoline Museums, with the exception of those selected for the Belvedere at the Vatican (Stato della Cittadel Vaticano).

Conversely, those sculptures whose images were considered too bold and inappropriate for the papal palace were transported to the Palazzo Conservatorio. Thus, Pius PP. V, in an attempt to cleanse the Vatican of images of “pagan idols”, donated 140 ancient statues to the public museum, thus turning it into a collection of classical sculptures.

By the mid-16th century the antique collection had been enriched by a gilded bronze statue of Hercules, an equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, marble fragments of the acropolis of Constantine I the Great and some new finds from excavations in Rome. Two colossal statues of the Tiber and the Nile were transferred from the Quirinal to decorate the facade of the Senators’ Palace.

The Capitoline Museums were opened to the general public in 1734 by Pope Clement XII (Clemens PP. XII). At this time a new wave of the cult of Antiquity gripped secular society as well as the clergy.

Everywhere ancient monuments began to be restored, excavations were organized to find new masterpieces of antiquity, and numerous galleries were opened. Demonstration of ancient monuments of art acquired a commercial character – foreign tourists were ready to pay for their contemplation a lot of money.

Clement XII changed the profile of the museum, which until then had only been a collection of sculptures, by transferring to it the paintings belonging to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period bought from Cardinal Albani, a passionate lover of Antiquity, together with a huge collection of sculptures.

More than 300 paintings, acquired in the middle of the XVIII century from the private collections of the Sacchetti and Pia di Savoia families, formed the basis of the rich Pinacotheca of the Capitoline Museums.

In 1870, the exhibition rooms of the historical complex were considerably enriched by new exhibits, among which the collection of Greek, Etruscan and Italian vases received as donations stood out.

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Architectural Ensemble

The architectural ensemble of the Capitoline Museums was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti and commissioned by Pope Paul III. Work on the project began in 1536 during the great artist’s lifetime and continued after his death for the next 400 years, with interruptions and renewals. The interesting fact is that Michelangelo’s original plan was in reality almost unchanged and is considered the embodiment of the ideal of urban planning.

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To reach the square, one must climb the sloping stepped road called the Cordonata. At its top visitors are greeted by statues of the mythical twin brothers, the immortal Pollux and the mortal Castor.

In the center of the square rises the equestrian sculpture of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, a copy of the bronze original, which for preservation purposes was moved to a specially equipped hall of the Palace of Conservators.

Equestrian sculpture of Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Rome's Capitoline Square

The imposing pedestal for the sculpture was designed by Michelangelo himself.

The square was paved in stone back in the XV century, and the drawing in the form of a divergent constellation appeared only in 1940, but in exact accordance with the sketch of the genius author of the project.

Capitoline Square project by Michelangelo

The trapezoidal square of Campidoglio is facing three buildings, united in composition by their shape and style: the Senator’s Palace, the Conservator’s Palace and the New Palace (Palazzo Nuovo).

The two latter, with their mirrored facades, face each other and frame the square in a picturesque way. They are connected by an underground gallery, which appeared in 1930 and became part of the Capitoline Museums.

It contains traces of residential structures dating back to the second century. The Senators’ Palace is perpendicular to the other two, forming a partly closed space facing the Vatican, in contrast to the old orientation of the Capitol to the Roman Forum.

Already in the 20th century the Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino (Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino) joined the museum complex to expand its areas.


The museum complex is housed in three buildings – the Palace of the Conservators, the New Palace and the Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino. The Senators’ Palace is inaccessible to visitors because it houses the City Hall.

Palazzo dei Conservator

The Palace of the Conservators was rebuilt in 1560 from a 15th-century building designed by Michelangelo as part of a single project.

The external appearance of the palace facade is distinguished by huge pilasters – a decorative element in the form of a protruding square column – which were used for the first time in architecture. Subsequently, this design technique was widely used in construction in different countries. As a result of the alterations on the first floor, round columns framing pilasters and a balustrade with statues on the roof of the building were added.

The exquisite interior of the Conservatory Palace is accentuated by carved doors and ceilings, frescoes, moldings, and antique tapestries.

Museum exhibition of the palace consists of ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian sculptures, paintings by Italian artists, vases, a collection of coins and jewelry.

New Palace

The new palace was conceived by Michelangelo as an identical building to the Palace of the Conservators opposite. Funding for the construction began in 1603 at the initiative of Pope Clement VIII (Papa Clemens PP. VIII), but was not completed until the 17th century under the direction of the Italian architect Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi.

The internal space was characterized by the symmetrical organization of the halls, which housed mainly sculptures.

Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino

The Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino was built between 1538 and 1680, in the immediate neighborhood of the Palazzo della Conservatorio and belonged to the Caffarelli family. From the beginning of the nineteenth century and until the end of the First World War the building was occupied by the Prussian embassy.

In 1918 the reconstruction resulted in the replacement of the upper floors by a wonderful terrace (Terrazza Caffarelli) and on the first floor by a new museum area with 400 exhibits, among which coins, jewelry and precious stones.

The terrace overlooks the Teatro di Marcello, the Synagogue, the Jewish Ghetto and the Pantheon.

In this palace are also organized temporary thematic exhibitions.


World-famous works of art can be seen in the Capitol Museums in their original form. Among them, of great interest are the very first exhibits that became the nucleus of the unique collection.

Capitol She-wolf.

The Capitoline Wolf is a bronze sculpture of a she-wolf nursing the two infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, and has become a symbol of the Eternal City.

She-wolf of Capitoline is feeding Romulus and Remus

To the left of the entrance to the Palace of Conservators on a high pole stands a copy of the sculpture, while in the museum hall stands the original. Experts are still arguing about the origin of this famous exhibit.

Considering the technology of making bronze sculptures in ancient times and stylistic analysis, it has been established that the she-wolf was not made by Etruscan masters in the 5th century BC, as previously thought, but later – in the 8th and 10th centuries. The legendary infants joined at the end of the 15th century and are presumably the work of the Florentine master Antonio del Pollaiolo.

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Bronze statue of a boy removing a splinter

A small bronze sculpture from the 1st century B.C. representing a sitting boy removing a splinter from his leg appeared on the Capitoline Hill in 1471.

Bronze statue of a boy taking out a splinter Capitoline Museums

It was part of the first group of exhibits given to the Roman people by Pope Sixtus IV. The amazingly realistic depiction and unusual pose of the figure, made the work of the ancient unknown author incredibly valuable and copied many times, especially during the Renaissance era.

Gilded statue of Hercules

A magnificent statue of Hercules made of bronze and gilded was found during excavations at the Forum Boarium.

Gilded statue of Hercules in the Capitoline Museums

Pope Sixtus IV organized the work at Rome’s oldest site in order to find new ancient works of art.

The slightly larger than life-size (2.41 m high) statue is impressive in its monumentality and stylistic execution. It has been suggested that the cult statue stood at the entrance to the temple of Hercules and probably belongs to the school of the famous ancient sculptor Lysippus.

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

The equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which stood on the square in front of the palace and the Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano from the 12th century to the beginning of the 16th century, was restored by order of Pope Sixtus IV.

Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius original in the Capitoline Museums

The 4.24-meter high monument, a bronze monument of the 2nd century B.C., is the only monument to a Roman emperor on horseback that has survived from the Roman period. The monument was originally covered in gold which was later snapped up by barbarians during their raids on Rome.

For several centuries the statue was identified with Constantine I the Great, the first Christian emperor, which saved it from destruction, to which other antique statues were subjected at the hands of Christians in the fight against paganism. It was not until the fifteenth century that a Vatican librarian, comparing the face of the rider with the image of Roman emperors on ancient coins, determined that this statue was Marcus Aurelius. In 1538 Pope Paul III ordered the ancient monument to be moved to the square in front of the Capitol.

The Colossus of Constantine I the Great

In the courtyard of the Palazzo Conservatory are the marble fragments of the Colossus of Constantine I the Great. The work is believed to date from 312-315. The original statue depicted the Roman emperor seated on a throne and was in the style of the Colossi of the Greek gods, which were usually erected at the entrance to temples.

Colossus of Constantine I the Great in the Capitoline Museums

Given the proportions of the human body and the height of the head of the statue of 2.5 m, we can assume that the size of the statue was at least 12 m high. The Colossus was broken down during the late Antiquity, most likely to extract the bronze that covered the entire statue. Parts of the enormous statue, were collected by Michelangelo and placed in the Palazzo Conservatory in 1487.

What are the famous sculptures inside

Among the ancient sculptures exhibited in the halls of the Capitoline Museums, the most admired are the Venus of the Capitol, the Venus of Esquila, the Bust of Brutus, the Dying Gaul, the Bust of the Emperor Commodus as Hercules, Cupid and Psyche, Medusa by the genius Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini and other works of the Ancient and Renaissance. I also advise to pay attention to Marforio, one of the Roman speaking statues.

What are the famous paintings inside

The unique Pinacoteca Capitolica presents artistic paintings dating from the late Middle Ages to the late eighteenth century. The gallery contains works by Rubens, Titian, Guido Reni, Tintoretto, Veronese, Caravaggio, van Dyck, Pietro da Cortona, Gvercino, Correggio, Lodovico Carracci and other talented masters of fine arts.

The museum complex on Capitoline Hill is a major historical, architectural, and artistic attraction in Rome, which has preserved priceless treasures of antiquity and made them accessible to every visitor.

Opening hours, tickets, tours

The Capitoline Museums are open daily from 09:30 to 19:30, with the ticket office closing at 6:30 pm. The ticket price is 11,50 euros.

The audio guide for children costs 4 euros, available in English and Italian. Video guide (Android, Apple) costs 5 euros, available in Italian, not updated since 2019.

Individual tour in Russian is possible with a guide ITALY FOR ME. Duration from 2 to 4 hours, cost from 100 to 200 euros.

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