Capitoline Hill is one of what are known as the Seven Hills of Rome. They are all contained within the walls of the ancient city of Rome and are located east of the Tiber River. The Seven Hills of Rome play a prominent role in the tradition, history, and mythology of Roman culture. It is thought that, at one time, each hill was occupied by a separate group or tribe of people before there was any sort of banding together as a city. Tradition has it that members of each early tribe began to take part in religious rites with one another, leading to the ultimate formation of what would become the early city of Rome. Roman mythology tells us that Romulus founded the city of Rome by decree on Palatine Hill. There are a number of engaging attractions at Capitoline Hill.
The Capitoline Museum is actually housed in three separate palazzos, or palaces. They contain incredible collections of art and archaeological findings. The museums face the Piazza del Campidoglio, originally designed by Michelangelo in the year 1536. It is interesting to note that the job that Michelangelo originally commissioned was not completed for another 400 years, until Mussolini ordered the ground engraving finished in the middle part of the twentieth century. Capitoline Hill history indicates that the thrust for opening the museums first came about when Pope Sixtus IV donated a vast collection of ancient statues and art to the city of Rome in 1471. The Capitoline Museum now houses an impressive collection of statues, monuments, medieval and Renaissance art, jewels, and tons of historically significant archaeological artifacts.
The first of the palazzos in which part of the Capitoline Museum is contained is the Palazzo dei Conservatori. This building is primarily dedicated to ancient Roman and Greek sculpture and has on permanent display some of the most impressive works in Europe. The second floor of the Conservatori is home to the renowned bronze sculpture of the she-wolf suckling Remus and Romulus. The Conservatori also houses the Capitoline Art Gallery.
The Palazzo Nuevo is dedicated primarily to statues and inscriptions, sarcophagi, ancient busts, and other major archaeological findings. Some of the highlights in this part of the museum include statue of Oceanus in the courtyard and the Capitoline Venus.
The Palazzo dei Senatori was first constructed in the twelfth century and then modified in the sixteenth century according to the designs of Michelangelo. It is perhaps the most widely recognized of the building with its two ascending, outdoor staircases that approach the entrance way.
The Mamertine Prison is another of the most popular attractions for tourists visiting Rome. Much speculation surrounds the history of the Mamertine Prison, but it is unequivocally known that it was the holding place for certain high-profile enemies of the state and prisoners for some time. It is theorized that Saints Peter and Paul were kept in this prison after the crucifixion of Christ. The Mamertine Prison is just one more sight in Rome that takes you back in history and sheds light on the ancient city of Rome. If you are visiting Rome, you will likely not regret a visit to the Piazza del Campidoglio and the Capitoline Museum.