Capitoline Museums - Table of Contents ..............  Architecture Around the World

2013 photos
Capitoline Hill

(Pronounced KAP i tow line)
Rome, Italy

Left: Palazzo Nuovo ... Top: Palazzo Senatorio ... Center: Piazza del Campidoglio featuring the Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue ... Right: Palazzo dei Conservatori ... Bottom: wall and balustrade

The Capitoline Museums are composed of three main buildings surrounding the Piazza del Campidoglio and interlinked by an underground gallery beneath the piazza.

Drawing source: A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method, by Sir Banister-Fletcher, New York, 1950, p. 644. (Google Books)
P. 644

Left: stairs leading to the church of Santa Maria n Aracoeli ... Right: ramped staircase called the "Cordonata" leading up to the Piazza del Campidoglio and its three buildings.

Walking up both sets of stairs leads to an appreciation of Michaelangelo's ramped design - much easier on the legs.

Michaelangelo's ramped staircase called the "Cordonata" - sided with travertine balustrades - leading up to the Piazza del Campidoglio and its three buildings .

The Palazzo del Senatore was to be restored with a double outer stairway, and the campanile moved to the center axis of the palace.

The Palazzo del Senatore is one of the Capitoline Museums

Palazzo Nuovo
"In the [piazza] middle, and not to Michelangelo’s liking, stood the original equestrian statue of the emperor Marcus Aurelius. Michelangelo provided an unassuming pedestal for it. The sculpture was held in regard because it was thought to depict Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Emperor. The bronze now in position is a modern copy; the original is in the Palazzo dei Conservatori nearby." - Wikipedia (online March 2013)

The Palazzo Nuovo is one of the Capitoline Museums

Detail: Palazzo Nuovo

Note Capitoline Museums banner

Palazzo del Senatore

Left side of the travertine double outer stairway on the Palazzo del Senatore.

The Palazzo del Senatore is one of the Capitoline Museums

Palazzo del Senatore,
Statue atop the travertine balustrade ... Lion heads are probably scuppers ... Modillions at bottom.

Palazzo del Senatore.
Vase-shaped travertine balustrade

Palazzo dei Conservatori  portico features  travertine columns and balustrade

 The Palazzo dei Conservatori is one of the Capitoline Museums  

Excerpts from
A View on Cities
(online March 2013)

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. Today the hill is also known as Campidoglio, the Italian name for the hill.

During the Middle Ages, the site became the center of civic government and several palaces were built on the hill. But when Emperor Charles V planned a visit to Rome in 1536, the muddy Capitoline Hill was in such a bad shape that pope Paul III Farnese asked Michelangelo to design a new square, the Piazza del Campidoglio. The project also included a redesign of the existing buildings surrounding the square.

Michelangelo came up with an original design for the square with an intriguing ground pattern. He rebuilt the Palazzo Senatorio, seat of the Roman senate and made designs of a new facade for the Palazzo dei Conservatori.

Additionally a new building, the Palazzo Nuovo, was to be built just opposite the Palazzo dei Conservatori. Finally a monumental staircase, the Cordonata, leading from the bottom of the hill to the new square, was also part of Michelangelo's ambitious plans for the hill. 

Construction of the Piazza del Campidoglio started in 1546 but only the staircase at the entrance of the Palazzo Senatorio was realized when Michelangelo died in 1564. The project was only completed in the 17th century, but most of Michelangelo's designs were implemented.

The long, beautiful staircase to the Piazza del Campidoglio is known as the Cordonata. It is adorned with granite statues of Egyptian lions at the foot and two large classical statues of Castor and Pollux adorn the top.

Palazzo Nuovo was designed by Michelangelo, but finished by the brothers Carlo and Girolamo Rainaldi in 1654. In 1734, pope Clement XII made the art collection in the palazzo open to the public, creating the world's first public museum.

The central building on the Piazza del Campidoglio is the Palazzo Senatorio. The name is derived from its function as seat of the Senate until 1870 when it became the seat of the city of Rome. It was originally built as a fortress in the 11th century on top of the ancient Tabularium and rebuilt again in the 13th and 14th century. The current design is a slightly adapted version of the 16th century design by Michelangelo.
Excerpts from
(online March 2013)

The Capitoline (pronounced KAP i tow line) Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel (equivalent of the ancient Greek acropolis) of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium.The English word capitol derives from Capitoline.

The Capitoline contains few ancient ground-level ruins, as they are almost entirely covered up by Medieval and Renaissance palaces (now housing the Capitoline Museums) that surround a piazza, a significant urban plan designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536–1546. At the height of his fame, he was commissioned by the Farnese Pope Paul III, who wanted a symbol of the new Rome to impress [French monarch] Charles V, who was expected in 1538. This offered him the opportunity to build a monumental civic plaza for a major city as well as to reestablish the grandeur of Rome.

An equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius was to stand in the middle of the piazza set in a paved oval field. Michelangelo was required to provide a setting for the statue and to bring order to an irregular hilltop already encumbered by two crumbling medieval buildings set at an acute angle to one another.

The Palazzo del Senatore was to be restored with a double outer stairway, and the campanile moved to the center axis of the palace. The Palazzo dei Conservatori was also to be restored, and a new building, the so-called Palazzo Nuovo, built at the same angle on the north side of the piazza to offset the Conservatori, creating a trapezoidal piazza. A wall and balustrade were to be built at the front of the square, giving it a firm delineation on the side facing the city. Finally, a flight of steps was to lead up to the enclosed piazza from below, further accentuating the central axis.

The three remodeled palazzi enclose a harmonious trapezoidal space, approached by the ramped staircase called the "Cordonata".

Executing the design was slow: Little was actually completed in Michelangelo's lifetime (the ‘’Cordonata’’ was not in place when Emperor Charles arrived, and the imperial party had to scramble up the slope from the Forum to view the works in progress), but work continued faithfully to his designs and the Campidoglio was completed in the 17th century, except for the paving design, which was to be finished three centuries later.

The church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli is adjacent to the square, located near where the ancient arx, or citadel, atop the hill it once stood.

Photos and their arrangement 2013 Chuck LaChiusa
| ...Home Page ...| ..Buffalo Architecture Index...| ..Buffalo History Index... .|....E-Mail ...| .

web site consulting by ingenious, inc.