Piazza del Campidoglio, Palazzo Senatario, Rome, Italy
Europe, Italy, Places to Visit in Italy, Read About Can't Miss Places, Rome

Best Museums in Rome—the Capitoline Museum

If you find yourself in the Eternal City—and you should make every effort to do so—you will discover there are loads of things to do in Rome. Filled with ancient wonders, medieval treasures, Renaissance riches, and Baroque splendors, Rome is a perfect place. Everywhere you turn there is something to see that tantalizes the senses. No visit to Rome would be complete without a trip to the historic center—the Centro Storico.

The historic center is filled with archaeological remains that delight tourists such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Pantheon, and much more. Although the entire city is an open-air museum, sometimes one wants to go inside and see treasures in curated collections. For this blog, I’m going to focus on the Capitoline Museum. The buildings which house the Capitoline Museum sit atop Capitoline Hill with the stunning Piazza del Campidoglio out front. The area stands testament to Rome’s military, civic, and religious domination. To enter with the greatest view, I suggest taking the Cordonata (Michelangelo’s stairway) from street level off via del Teatro di Marcello. Two ancient Egyptian lions made of black granite flank the base of Michelangelo’s Great Stairway, pots of flowers frequently line the sides. Statues flank the steps and greet you when you make it to the top. Looking up at the terracotta clock tower, I hope you are as overwhelmed as I by the beauty. Enjoying these gently sloping stairs Michelangelo designed is truly one of life’s great gifts. 

After your gentle climb up Michelangelo’s stairs, you will find yourself on the top of Capitoline Hill. Look around. Piazza del Campidoglio with an intricate Michelangelo-designed star on the ground and a replica of a statue of Marcus Aurelius in the middle is in front of you. You face three magnificent palazzi. You have reached the Capitoline Museum.

The Capitoline Museum holds a treasure trove of Rome’s ancient artifacts, bronzes, paintings, sculptures, busts, and much more. There are two main buildings that visitors can wander through: Palazzo dei Conservatori (completed in 1568) and Palazzo Nuovo (17th century). Between the two buildings is Palazzo Senatorio, which is the mayoral palace. This building isn’t open to the public, but you will be able to cross underneath it and see one of my favorite parts of the Capitoline Museum–the view from the Tabularium.

The Tabularium are vacant rooms which were built in the 1st century BCE and once held the archives of ancient Rome. Just being in this place gives me chills. The tablets held here were what Romans wrote their laws upon. The view from these rooms over the Roman Forum all the way to the Colosseum is one of the finest in Rome. The mayor and politicians who work here daily must have a difficult time getting anything done. No wonder Roman bureaucracy is so slow if this is the view out their window!

Some of My Favorite Pieces (pictures below)

  • Massive chunks of statue of Constantine in courtyard
  • Boy Extracting a Thorn
  • Capitoline She-Wolf
  • Bernini’s Medusa
  • Marcus Aurelius
  • Capitoline Venus

If you won’t be in Rome soon, you don’t have to miss out. The cultural ministry has done a magnificent job of making a virtual tour of the museum. Now you can walk down the halls, pause at the exhibits, stroll around, and have a 360-degree view of museum without crowds or leaving your home. Just go to this link and, if you’re English-speaking choose the British flag: https://tourvirtuale.museicapitolini.org/ 

The Capitoline Museum has been open to the public since the first half of the 1700s making it one of the oldest public museums in the world.

Like what you just read? You can support me by following my blog and leaving comments–I love to hear from my readers. Happy travels! Amy

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