Romulus and more
The Capitoline is perhaps history's most famous hill. Along with Palatine Hill on the opposite side of the Roman Forum
, it is the site of one of Rome’s earliest settlements. According to tradition the Roman State was established when a truce was made between the rulers of these two hills, Rome’s patron Romulus and Titus Tatius.
Today the Capitoline, sometimes called the Campidoglio, remains an iconic destination. Looking up from the bottom of the hill visitors will see a large stepped gangway flanked by two huge stone statues of the Dioscuri, the divine twins Castor and Pollux, with their horses. They guard the entrance to the large and beautiful Piazza del Campidoglio, which was commissioned by Pope Paul III and designed by Michelangelo.
Michelangelo steps in
The Piazza is surrounded by three superb Renaissance palaces, also the work of Michelangelo: two of these now function as the Capitoline Museums
, which are filled with archaeological finds from every era of Roman history, with a particular emphasis on the importance of the hill as a sacred place during the Roman Empire. Indeed, since before the Empire many important temples were erected here, the largest and most famous being the Temple of Jupiter, the remains of which can be viewed inside the Museum.
During the Middle Ages the site continued as a centre for civic activity, before falling somewhat into disrepair before Michelangelo's Renaissance interventions. Dominating the middle ground of the piazza is a huge bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, a copy of the ancient Roman original which once stood in its place and is now on display in the Museum. Much of Rome’s history is concentrated on Capitoline Hill - and your climb up is rewarded with a fantastic view.