Capitoline Hill was ancient Rome’s religious heart, and is now home to a magnificent
museum. A gently stepped grade, the Cordonata leads you up the hill and provides an unforgettably theatrical experience, just as Michelangelo planned it in the 76th century. At the top you notice the outstretched hand of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, as he dispenses peace from astride his horse. The sides of the star-shaped piazza are graced by twin palaces that contain some of Rome’s greatest treasures. The collections in the Palazzo Nuovo, detailed below, and in the Palazzo dei Conservatori were inaugurated in 1471 with a donation of bronzes by Pope Sixtus IV, and have been judiciously added to ever since.
1.Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
A copy of this 2nd-century AD bronze master-piece is in the centre of the Capitoline star; the original is displayed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
The collection’s most renowned piece conveys great pathos. It is probably a 1st-century AD Roman copy of a Hedonistic bronze from the 3rd century BC.
The shimmering goddess of love gets a room of her own. This fine 1st-century BC copy of a Praxiteles Aphrodite from the 4th century BC shows her risen voluptuously from her bath, attempting to cover herself, as if reacting to someone’s arrival.
4.Mosaic of the Doves
Originally the centrepiece of a floor decoration in Hadrian’s Villa , this jewel like composition uses tiny marble and ass chips (tesserae) to achieve a sense of texture and volume.
This hirsute reclining giant was originally a river god, and is believed to come from the Forum of Augustus . A Renaissance sculptor added the attributes of the god Ocean and placed him here, as overseer of this courtyard fountain.
Used to adorn an ancient grove or fountain, this young mythological creature is a copy of a 4th-century BC original by Praxiteles. His pointed ears, panther-skin cape and flute are attributes of the nature-god Pan. The statue inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Marble Faun .
7.Hall of the Philosophers
Roman copies of idealized Greek portrait busts of the greatest Hellenic poets and thinkers fill this room,including the blind epic poet Homer.
9.Mosaic of the Masks
This floor decoration of two Greek theatre masks is probably from the 2nd century AD. The use of perspective, light and shadow is highly skilled, employing small squares of coloured marble to create dramatic effects.
10.Drunken Old Woman
This copy of a Hellenistic original from the 3rd century BC is from a series of sculptures depic-ting the wages of vice.
Museum Guide The Palazzo Nuovo, on the left as you enter the piazza, contains mostly restored ancient sculpture.The finest pieces are on the upper floor. Then take the stairs down to the underpass that leads to the Palazzo del Conservator. The courtyard displays ancient marble fragments.The next floor up has 16th- and 17th-century decorations and Classical statuary. On the top floor are Renaissance and Baroque paintings.