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.
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 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 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
There has been a spate of recent construction and renovation of key works at
so be prepared for some galleries to be closed.
Santa 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
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