"Campidoglio Square (Piazza del Campidoglio)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 27th June 2011
In the Middle Ages, on this part of the city a big market and a political center of Rome were settled. The latter, till our days, is distinguished by four letters "SPQR: Senatus Populus Que Romaus". The present look of this place was created by the project of Michelangelo, who made of it one of the most beautiful squares in Rome. He ingeniously made use of a little space and already existing constructions. it was the first Roman square built according to a plan.
In the center is an equestrian monument to emperor Marcus Aurelius made of gilded bronze, sculptured in the Imperial epoch and originally located in Lateran Hill; it was transferred to Capitolium (Capitoline or Capitol hill) in 1528. The coat-of-arms on the basement of the monument belonged to Paul III, the pope by who's order the square was built. Since its restoration (1980-1990), the monument has been displayed in the Capitoline Museum and a copy of it is on the square since 1997 (while its basement is original).
The design of the pavement, one of the most impressive characteristics of the square, was designed by Michelangelo, but executed only in 1940, by Antonio Munoz. It emphasizes the importance of the monument in the center.
Around 1546 Michelangelo realized the façade of the Palazzo Senatorio (backgdrop of the main view) with a double staircase framing the wonderful fountain. He restored the Palazzo dei Conservatori and began to build a second palace, the Palazzo Nuovo – today the seat of the first public museum in the world inaugurated in 1734 , the Musei Capitolini – placed opposite the first to mark out the three sides of the square. The Palazzo Senatorio was completed after Michelangelo’s dead by Giacomo della Porta, and the second by Carlo Rainaldi. The works were completed in 1655. Notwithstanding the long period of time passed and the presence of different architects, Piazza del Campidoglio has today a wonderful stylistic unity.
On the balustrade of the Piazza there are several ancient marble sculptures: two statues of Dioscuri (pictured above), brought here in 1585 after they were discovered on the site of the houses of the Cenci close to Ghetto; "Trofei di Mario", coming from Mostra dell'Acqua Giulia (modern Piazza Vittorio) and transferred here in 1590; statues of emperor Constantine and his son Constans (from the Baths of Constantine); two milestones from Via Appia. At the back of the Piazza del Campidoglio is Palazzo Senatorio; on the left is Palazzo del Museo Capitolino; facing it, on the right is Palazzo dei Conservatori. All three palaces are connected by an underground corridor built in 1940.
Piazza del Campidoglio's current appearance dates back to the middle of the XV century when it was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The piazza's component parts (buildings, sculptures and decorated paving) were intended by Michelangelo to form one single organic unity, although over the centuries there have been a number of alterations and additions. Campidoglio Square (Piazza del Campidoglio) consists of: