Piazza del Campidoglio: 2000 years of history in a symbolic space

Piazza del Campidoglio

The Piazza del Campidoglio was set down on the Capitoline Hill summit, the most well-known of Rome’s seven hills. It is the first contemporary plaza to be designed in Rome. The square came about because Charles V arranged a visit to Rome in 1536. Pope Paul III was so stunned by the sodden Capitoline Hill that he ordered Michelangelo to design a square. The Piazza del Campidoglio is one of the most stunning piazzas in Rome, bringing millions of visitors every year


Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome

The design of the Piazza del Campidoglio

Michelangelo wanted the piazza to face St Peter’s Basilica, the political heart of Rome, rather than the Roman Forum. He also suggested the building of another palace, Palazzo Nuovo, which would face Palazzo dei Conservatori. This mansion, in its turn, would have a unique façade. The Palazzo Senatorio’s exterior would also be redesigned so that all the constructions and the plaza would work harmoniously.

An impressive bronze equestrian sculpture of Marcus Aurelius was constructed in the heart of the square. It is housed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, and in the piazza stands a replica of the Roman Emperor instead. The performance of the plans took so long that Michelangelo didn’t live to see his work finished. But, his ideas were followed meticulously and completed several centuries later. The Piazza del Campidoglio is one of Rome’s most beautiful squares, attracting millions of visitors every year. Its reputation is also due to its closeness to the Capitoline Museums and the legendary statue of the Capitoline Wolf, settled between the Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo Nuovo.