Capitoline Hill Of Rome – Campidoglio

Capitoline Hill Of Rome – Campidoglio

capitoline hill of rome
The ramp up to the Capitoline hill of Rome built by Michelangelo.

Since the beginning of Rome’s history, the Capitoline Hill has been the center of all the city’s power; it was chosen based on the position of dominance the hill had overlooking the vast valley Rome was just starting its life on.
The Capitoline hill was not the highest amongst the seven hills the city is founded on, yet the Romans built the most important of their temples for the God Jupiter on top of it and used it to celebrate their victories with triumphant ceremonies that culminated with rituals dedicated to their deity.

rome after dark
Piazza on the Capitoline Hill at night.

As the Dark Ages brought destruction to culture, the Capitoline was not spared, it was sacked and destroyed, and for a long time it was left unchecked and ignored, so much it became nothing but a field overgrown with grass where goats would spend their days grazing; and even when civilization came back to it, its role shifted to the one of a market place and the ancient ruins served the purpose of “supporting” the stalls and structures of the market.

romulus and remus
Mythical She-Wolf feeding the twins, founders of Rome.

Finally its status was restored when the Campidoglio went back to be the core of power it was meant to be, starting by being the city’s administrative center toward the year 1000 and seeing new buildings growing around its wide square currently still in use by the Mayor of Rome.

But what made the Capitoline so magnificent is Michelangelo’s touch. In the year 1500 Pope Paul III decided to hire the artist giving him license to use his genius as he saw fit to restore the Campidoglio’s beauty.
And so it was Michelangelo who completely rebuilt the old palaces on the hill and added new ones. The artist enlarged the square and used his great talent to give Rome one of the most beautiful piazzas with a magnificent view of piazza Venezia and Roman Forum.

vittoriano, rome
The Capitoline Hill is hidden behind the huge Vittoriano Monument

So the history of the Campidoglio had seen days of greatness and darkness but in the end it became the center of political power matching the majestic St. Peter, the heart of the religious power.

Fun facts:

  • English word “Capital” derives from the word Campidoglio (Capitolium).
  • The statue of Mark Aurelius in the center of the Capitoline square, for a long time have been thought to be one of Constantine I (Christian emperor).
  • The statue of the She-wolf and twins: Romulus and Remus, is on the Capitoline Hill.
statue mark aurelius, rome
Mark Aurelius, one of the most pagan emperors of Rome.

We visit the Capitoline Hill on our Aperitivo Tour!