Top museums in Italy: Capitoline Hill museums in Rome

Il Campidoglio

The Eternal City is home to some of the top museums in Italy and the Musei Capitolini are among them.

top museums in italy
Il Campidoglio

Located on one of the city’s seven hills, Il Campidoglio, the Capitoline Museums are a great place to start exploring Rome’s history. Perfectly proportioned Piazza del Campidoglio with its elegant palaces, Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, that house the museums was designed by Michelangelo commissioned by Pope Paul III in the 16th century.

The museums boast the world’s oldest public collection of classical sculpture that was started in 1471 by Pope ­Sixtus IV. Here you will find the most iconic Roman artefacts that are mentioned in any ancient world history books. Seeing them with your own eyes is an unforgettable experience!

top museums in italy
Statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius

The Capitoline Museums are never overly crowded, so you have a good chance of admiring the ancient treasures all by yourself. The visit starts from the Palazzo dei Conservatori where you will find the famous Etruscan statue, symbol of Rome, She-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus. In a spacious sky-lit room stands the enormous statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius from the 2nd century AD that was moved from Piazza del Campidoglio to protect it from the elements. It is the only equestrian bronze statue to survive from ancient Rome and it still has traces of gilding on it.

On the second floor you will find an impressive collection of Renaissance paintings from the 14th to late 17th century including works by Guercino and a Caravaggio.

top museums in italy
The Dying Gaul

The Palazzo dei Conservatori is connected to the Palazzo Nuovo with an underground passageway which has a great view of the Roman Forum. In the Palazzo Nuovo you can admire the stunning sculpture of the Dying Gaul, a copy of a Greek original dating from the 3rd century BC. The famous Capitoline Venus has a room to herself where you can linger to take a close look at the sublime lines of this Roman copy of a 3rd-century-BC Greek original that has become a symbol feminine beauty.

After the visit of one of the top museums in Italy you can head to the museum’s rooftop restaurant to take in magnificent vistas over the Eternal City that never ceases to amaze.

Photos via Flickr by: Diego Albero Román, David Macchi, Anthony Majanlahti.

Anna Lebedeva