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"Michelangelo's Campidoglio" Capitoline Hill - Campidoglio Tip by jungles

Capitoline Hill - Campidoglio, Rome: 84 reviews and 136 photos

by jungles

The Capitoline Hill, the highest of the seven hills of Rome, has held a key place in the city almost since Rome's beginning. It was the location of the the ancient Temple of Jupiter, first built in 509 B.C., which was the most important temple in ancient Rome. This would be the end point of the triumphal processions granted to victorious Roman generals. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt several times, but the final version was destroyed for good in the fifth century A.D., and very little now remains.

In 1536 Michelangelo was commissioned to create a beautiful piazza on the hill, which would once again be the location of a grand triumphal procession. This one, by orders of the pope, was to be for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V as a show of gratitude for his victories over the armies of Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire. In fact the procession never happened because the piazza was not finished in time; much of the work was done in the 17th century, after Michelangelo's death, and the paving he designed was not put in place until 1940 (on the orders of Mussolini).

Michelangelo designed new facades for the two already existing buildings, the Palazzo Senatorio and the Palazzo dei Conservatori. He then designed an altogether new building, known as the Palazzo Nuovo, to mirror the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the other side of the piazza. The twelve-pointed design in the floor represented the twelve signs of the zodiac. It is rather difficult to make out without a bird's eye view from above, but you can see the design on the back of the fifty-cent euro coin. Finally, there's the Cordonata, a monumental but graceful stairway with steps of such small height and so far apart that it's more of a ramp than a staircase. This was to allow Charles V and those in his procession to ascend to the top on horseback.

Directions: When facing the huge white monument in Piazza Venezia, walk to the right, past the church on the hill with the very steep staircase, then walk up the cordonata which is next to the church. You can also access the Campidoglio from the Roman Forum.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jun 2, 2006
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