The Capitoline Hill overlooks the Forum Romanum and was the site of the Temple of Jupiter,
completed by Rome’s last King and dedicated in 509 BC. The name comes from a human skull
(Caput) which was found when digging the Temple foundations. The English word Capitol derives
from the Capitoline Hill. Piazza del Campidoglio dominates the hill today. Designed in 1536 by the
Renaissance artist and architect Michelangelo Buonarotti, although it took nearly 100 years to
complete construction (and 400 years before the pavement was completed by Mussolini).
The smallest of Rome’s hills (but the highest and most sacred), the Capitoline Hill
has been the religious and political center of Rome since its founding.

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Capitoline She-Wolf
Campidoglio Approach and Dioscuri

Castor: Dioscuri (detail)
Trofei di Mario (detail)

Michelangelo Stairs and Sculptures
Minerva as Dea Roma (detail)
Tiber and Nile River Gods (detail)

Cola di Rienzi, Tribune of Rome
Fresco of San Biagio del Mercato


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Rome Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Capitoline Hill

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 18 Galleries in the Photoshelter Rome Collection


Capitoline She Wolf 7393
1500 x 1125 (367 KB)

This bronze copy of the Capitoline Wolf stands at the top of the ramp from the Forum
beside the Palazzo Senatorio. The original is in the nearby Palazzo dei Conservatori.
Long thought to have been an Etruscan casting of the 5th century BC, 20th century
restoration revealed the likelihood of a 13th c. date, and the recent radiocarbon
and thermoluminescence dating have upheld this. The sculptures of the twins
(Romulus and Remus) were added in the early Renaissance (c. 1471).


Capitoline She Wolf 7390
1500 x 1092 (386 KB)

The Capitoline Wolf is such an iconic symbol of Rome that the Museo Nuovo has
been reluctant to release the findings of the radiocarbon and thermoluminescence
tests, but the State Superintendent of Cultural Heritage (Adriano La Regina) has
said that the tests have produced “a very precise indication in the 13th century”.

When Numitor of Alba Longa was overthrown by his brother Amulius in the 8th c. BC,
Amulia demanded that Numitor’s infant grandsons Romulus and Remus be drowned in the
Tiber River so they would never challenge his rule. The twins were instead left by the river, where
they were found by a she-wolf who had lost her cubs and was attracted to the crying infants.
She suckled them, keeping them alive until they were found by a shepherd and his wife,
who raised the twins. Later, Romulus founded Rome on the nearby Palatine Hill,
which was the site of the Lupercal (the cave where the wolf found them).


Campidoglio 8192
1500 x 1092 (414 KB)

The top of Michelangelo’s wide Cordonata ramp, flanked by the colossal statues
of the Dioscuri (Gemini Twins) and their horses. Palazzo Senatorio forms the background.
Palazzo Senatorio (Palace of the Senate) was built atop the ancient Tabularium as a fortress of
the Corsi in the 11th century, and the Senate met in the building from 1143 to 1870, when it
became the Town Hall of Rome. The medieval fortress was restored in the 13th-14th c.,
 the Bell Tower (Martino Longhi) was rebuilt in 1578-82 to replace the one from 1200.

The Cordonata looks like a wide staircase, but it is a ramp with shallow risers
formed from transverse strips of stone that allows the easy passage of horses.


Campidoglio 8193
1500 x 1087 (382 KB)

Beside The Dioscuri are the two Trofei di Mario, two marble panoplies dating to
the time of Domitian (1st c. AD), moved as part of the 16th c. renovation of the Piazza
from the Fountain of Alexander Severus in Castello dell'Acqua Marcia in Piazza Vittorio.
The panoplies are called “Trophies of Marius” (Gaius Marius) by tradition, but are
actually commemorating victories of Domitian in battles against the Dacians.

Michelangelo’s 1536 design for the Piazza and renovation of the facade of the Palazzo Senatorio
took many years to execute. By 1550, the double-staircase was completed, but little else. His design
for the facade of Palazzo Senatorio was modified in 1578-82 by Giacomo della Porta, but it still
masked the medieval towers on the sides of the Palazzo. The design included pilasters and
early Baroque tympanum above windows and doors, as seen above (and further below).


Campidoglio Dioscuri 8195
1500 x 1092 (371 KB)

The two statues of Castor (left) and Pollux with their horses are from the
Temple of Castor and Pollux next to Circus Flaminius near Campus Martius.
Created during the period of Septimius Severus (c. 200 AD), they were found
in many pieces in the early 1500s near the Church of San Tommaso. The
pieces of these statues had been turning up over many years, and it
was decided to restore them to place them on the Campidoglio.
A team of sculptors worked on their restoration, completed
 in 1584 with the reconstruction of Castor’s missing head.

In Michelangelo’s original design, the Cordonata was supposed to
be flanked by the statues of the Dioscuri located in Piazza Quirinale,
but the Pope had begun construction of their palace on the Quirinal Hill
by the time the balustrade was built and did not want to lose the statues.


Castor Cordonata Dioscuri 7430 M
1000 x 1600 (363 KB)

Castor stands on the left at the head of the Cordonata.


Castor detail 7429c
960 x 1290 (325 KB)

Detail of the statue of Castor atop the Cordonata. In these images you can see that the statues were in pieces when they were restored in 1584 after being found near the Temple of Castor and Pollux at the corner of Circus Flaminius. The head of the statue of Castor was never found, and a new head was carved to match the head of Pollux during the restoration.


Castor Cordonata Dioscuri 7426
795 x 1290 (244 KB)

The statues were created during the reign of Septimius Severus (193-211 AD). Castor and Pollux were considered the protectors of Rome, and temples dedicated to them were widespread (including a famous one in the Roman Forum). The temple in the Forum was founded on the spot where the Gemini Twins were seen after the Battle of Lake Regillus, where the Dioscuri helped to defeat the last King of Rome and his allies, ensuring the survival of the nascent Roman Republic. After the battle they announced the victory by watering their horses at the Spring of Juturna, and the temple was founded on this spot.


Castor Cordonata Dioscuri 7423
795 x 1290 (381 KB)

Castor and Pollux were the twin sons of Leda. Zeus came to the irresistible Leda disguised as a swan, and she hatched two eggs (represented by the egg-shaped caps worn by the Dioscuri). The children were fathered by both Zeus and her husband Tyndareus, King of Sparta, and included Helen of Sparta (later abducted by Paris and known as Helen of Troy). Castor was Tyndareus’ son and was mortal, Pollux was son of Zeus and was immortal. When Castor was killed, Pollux asked Zeus to share his immortality with Castor, and they were placed in the heavens as the Gemini constellation. They were worshiped by the Romans from the 5th century BC.


Trofei di Mario 7427 M
1000 x 1600 (539 KB)

This panoply of war trophies was misidentified during the Renaissance as
“Trophei di Mario” (Trophies of Marius), referring to Gaius Marius (157-86 BC).
The Roman General and Consul (elected Consul an unprecedented 7 times) was
considered the third founder of Rome due to his defeat of the invading Germanic
Cimbri and Teutonic tribes. He was popular for hundreds of years after his death.
The panoply is actually from the time of Domitian, and represents trophies from
his battles against the Dacian King Decebalus in 85 AD and his return after
the loss of the 5th Legion’s battle standard in 86 through 88 AD. The war
was eventually put on hold with a treaty and tribute while troops were
built up, until finally Trajan completed the job during his renowned
Dacian War campaigns of 101-102 and 105-106 AD (during
which Trajan seized the Dacian gold and silver mines, and
 treasure ($474.3 million silver and $10.55 billion gold)
 improving the Roman economy tremendously).


Marcus Aurelius Equestrian 7422
795 x 1290 (374 KB)

The replica of the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius in the Piazza del Campidoglio replaced the original statue (which was erected in 176 AD) after a bomb was exploded next to the original, damaging the legs of the horse and prompting major restoration after pollution corrosion was discovered.


Marcus Aurelius Equestrian 7421 M
1000 x 1600 (420 KB)

A laser-guided duplicate was made of the original and placed on the original pedestal. The statue survived the centuries when many other ancient bronze statues were melted down for the metal value because it was thought to have been a statue of Constantine (who was the first Christian Emperor). The statue was moved from the Lateran Palace in 1538.


Marcus Aurelius Equestrian 7419
1500 x 1092 (525 KB)

Marcus Aurelius was depicted riding without stirrups because the stirrup had not yet arrived
in the Western world (the earliest double stirrup was found in China, in a tomb dated to 322 AD).
Stirrups began arriving in Europe with invading Avars and other tribes in the 6th-7th centuries.


Marcus Aurelius 1563 LG
1200 x 2000 (414 KB)

— The image will open in a second window or tab —

A 1st century Roman statue of Marcus Aurelius, with a 2nd century head.
This image was taken at the Getty Museum during a restoration project.
— This image is not watermarked. It is supplied for personal use only —


Marcus Aurelius Equestrian 7420 M
1500 x 1290 (591 KB)

The original statue, the only complete surviving bronze of a Roman Emperor, has been restored
and installed in the Capitoline Museum of the Palazzo dei Conservatori (behind the photographer).
Behind the statue is the Palazzo Nuovo, built to Michelangelo’s design to close off the view of
the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli and create a symmetry with the existing facade of
the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which was redesigned to match the new facade. Built
in 1654 due to lack of funds, Palazzo Nuovo became one of the earliest museums
in Rome and housed many of Rome’s most historically important sculptures.


Michelangelo Stairs Dea Roma Tiber Nile Gods 7401
1500 x 1092 (544 KB)

The Palazzo Senatorio, with Michelangelo’s Staircase and statues of the River Gods and Dea Roma.

When Michelangelo designed the Piazza in 1536, there was no water on the Hill. The water supply
arrived fifty years later, at which point it was decided to change the monument into a fountain. The
statue of Minerva installed by Michelangelo was moved to the courtyard of the Capitoline Museum,
and it was replaced with the current, smaller statue of Minerva as Dea Roma (Goddess of Rome).
Dea Roma is a composite statue, with marble head and arms and a draped body of porphyry.
Minerva was the third deity of the original Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva) and
was both a Roman version of Athena and a derivative of the Etruscan goddess Menrva.

The statues of the River Gods are personifications of the Nile and Tigris. The statues
are 2nd century AD, and are originally from the Baths of Constantine (they were moved
from Palazzo Rospigliosi on the Quirinal Hill). The statue of the Tigris was later changed to
a statue of the Tiber by altering the head of the Tiger to (somewhat) resemble a Wolf and by the
addition of the sculptures of Romulus and Remus (detail shots of the three statues are shown below).


Michelangelo Stairs Dea Roma Tiber Nile Gods 7415 M
1800 x 1290 (682 KB)

A large (1800 pixel) image of the scene, showing the basin of the fountain which was
added after water was brought via the Aqua Felice aqueduct to the Capitoline Hill in 1588.

When Michelangelo designed the Piazza and the facades for the Palazzos, he completely
reversed the entrance of the Palazzo Senatorio, which had always faced the Roman Forum.
His new entrance faced St. Peter’s Basilica instead, reflecting the new importance of the Pope
and the Church on the civic life of Rome. He created a double-ramp of stairs with a central niche
that housed a monumental statue of Minerva (now in the courtyard of the Capitoline Museum).


Dea Roma 7406 M
1000 x 1600 (599 KB)

Minerva as Dea Roma, the Goddess of Rome.
The globe symbolizes Rome as the center of the world.
The body is porphyry, the head, arms and feet are marble.


Dea Roma detail 7403
960 x 1290 (555 KB)

Dea Roma (a personification of Rome as the Goddess) has been a cult since the early 2nd century BC, which interestingly spread originally through the Greek world. The Dea Roma cult was exploited by Augustus as a unifying measure, but Dea Roma did not receive a temple in Rome until the time of Hadrian (117-138 AD), when he used the cult of Roma Aeterna to stabilize the Empire. Dea Roma was identified with the Roman State rather than the city itself.


Nile River God 7398
1500 x 1092 (529 KB)

This second century AD statue of the River God Nile was originally in the
Baths of Constantine. It was brought along with the statue of the Tigris from
the Palazzo Rospigliosi on the Quirinal Hill. The River God holds a Cornucopia
in his left arm and reclines left against a representation of the Egyptian Sphinx.


Tiber River God 7411
1500 x 1092 (501 KB)

Originally a statue of the River God Tigris, this 2nd century AD statue was changed
to represent the Tiber after the Roman people expressed their desire to have it changed.
The head of the Tiger was altered to create a somewhat pug-nosed wolf (see the detail images)
and statues of Romulus and Remus were added to complete the transition to the Tiber.
The statue also holds a Cornucopia in the left hand, and reclines right on the wolf.


Nile River God detail 7396
960 x 1290 (455 KB)


Tiber River God detail 7411
960 x 1290 (436 KB)


Tiber River God Romulus Remus 7409
1500 x 1092 (409 KB)

Detail of the Tiger transformed into something truly odd (it does not look like a wolf),
and the statues of Romulus and Remus, added after the statue was changed from
a representation of the Tigris River into a representation of the Tiber River.


Cola di Rienzi 7438 M
1000 x 1600 (578 KB)

Rome in the 14th Century was no longer the great city of old, and Nicola (Cola) aspired to restore it to its former glory. His zeal was inflamed by his desire to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of a noble. He started denouncing the aristocratic rulers of Rome, alienating a great many nobles but gaining support of the Pope. Over the course of several years he gathered supporters among the people, then in 1347 he addressed an assembled crowd at the Capitoline Hill (quite eloquently), won them over, and a new set of laws were drawn up that very day. Cola was made a Tribune of Rome.


Cola di Rienzi 7436
795 x 1290 (611 KB)

The nobles left Rome without a fight and for a few months he was successful at cleaning up the city, but his power eventually waned and for several reasons he was deposed. After a few years of exile, he was made a Senator by Pope Innocent IV, who had reasons of his own for promoting Cola, and he returned to Rome, but he soon lost the favor of the people and also lost the support of the Pope. This time he was attacked by a mob and killed on the steps of the Palazzo Senatorio. The statue is below the Cordonata, created in 1877 after Cola emerged as a hero of the Risorgimento.


Fresco San Biagio del Marcato 8199
1500 x 1092 (576 KB)

In the 1930s, the Renaissance-era church of Santa Rita de Cascia was
demolished in the Piazza Aracoeli next to the monument of Victor Emmanuel II,
and an ancient Roman insula was discovered. Buried after the Fall of Rome in the
5th century (along with much of Rome), the upper stories were discovered in the 11th
century and a church was built (San Biagio del Mercato, named for a market nearby).
Later, Santa Rita de Cascia was built on top of San Biagio. This fresco depicting the
burial of Christ between the Madonna of Mercy and John Evangelist was part of the
facade of the 11th century church of San Biagio, and is now once again exposed
to the light of day, below the massive white monument to Victor Emmanuel II.

During Augustus’ reign (27 BC to 14 AD), Rome’s population had swelled to
one million people. It was the largest city the world had ever seen, and it required
housing for all of these people. Many people arriving in Rome to seek work were
housed in the first apartment houses (many were more like tenement slums). The
blocks of apartments were called insula (islands), and were multi-story housing
units on top of shops placed on the ground floor. Many were poorly built of wood
or substandard concrete, and upper floors had no water or latrines. Their poor
construction and the overcrowding of the tenements are blamed (along with
Nero, of course) for the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, after which height
and building quality restrictions were imposed on insulae, which were
then more often built with good concrete and fired bricks. Few of
these insulae survived the centuries even though there were
50,000 of them in Rome in the 3rd century. This insula
is a rare exception, and it is in the heart of Rome.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Rome Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Capitoline Hill

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 18 Galleries in the Photoshelter Rome Collection


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