The first public museum ever opened (1471), the Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums) houses a vast collection of Roman, medieval and Renaissance art. The museums embody the splendour of the Roman monarchy, republic and empire since its foundation in 753 BC. History and mythology intertwine as you walk past statues of emperors and gods. For example, the bronze Capitoline Wolf represents the legendary birth of Remus and Romulus, founders of the city.
Highlights at the Musei Capitolini
Bernini’s Bust of Medusa, works by Caravaggio and the right hand and foot from the colossal statue of Constantine are popular favourites. Definitely worth checking out is the equestrian statue of Emperor Aurelius, watching over Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio (Campidoglio Square). This hilltop square is the grand forefront of the Musei Capitolini, and surely one of Rome’s most famous landmarks. In the piazza, you can admire art and architecture, as well as the decadent facades of the city centre! According to legend, a flock of geese once called for help here during a nighttime barbarian attack, thus saving the city from being conquered! Piazza del Campidoglio is ideal for a stroll and to gaze over the ruins of central Rome.
Time to Explore: 2-3 hours.
Top Tips: Visit during Culture Week in Rome (the second or third week of April)! During this week, the Musei Capitolini offers free admission and access to sites not normally open to the public!