Capitoline Hill and Museum
Of Rome's seven hills, the Capitoline Hill is the most sacred.
From earliest times on, the Capitoline hill (or Campidoglio) was the centre of the political, social, and religious life of Rome. In addition to the old asylum, this was the site of the grat Italic temple dedicated to the Capitoline Jupiter, and the name Capitolium was used almost exclusively to designate the temple rather than the entire site. Among the others the arx, with the Temple of Iuno Moneta (the Admonisher) and the temple of the Virtus, also stood on the northern tip of the two knolls which comprised the height. The clivus capitolinus was the carriage road which led to the hill of the forum; there was also a flight of stairs which led to the arx alone and from which, near the Mamertine Prisons, the famous Scalae Gemoniae branched off.
The most sacred of the hills of Rome (even though the smallest) has continued to be the seat of power throughout the centuries. Michelangelo' s Piazza del Campidoglio now stands on its summit, defined by illustrious palaces and magnificently decorated by the statue of Marcus Aurelius, set at the center of the intriguing interplay of elipses and volutes Michelangelo himself designed on the grey pavement of the square. Formerly in the Lateran square, the Marcus Aurelius was moved to the Capitoline in 1538 and had not apparently been previously taken into consideration by Michelangelo.s decoration for the square.
The Palazzo Senatorio, the Palazzo Nuovo (or of the Capitoline Museum), and the Palazzo dei Conservatori define the limits of this first plateau of modern Rome. Both the Palazzo Nuovo and the Palazzo dei Conservatori were designed as twins by Michelangelo and built respectively by Girolamo Rainaldi (under Innocent X) and Giacomo della Porta (after 1563). Both of Michelangelo' s palaces are characterised by an architectural layout sustained by large Corinthian pilasters, and are crowned by an attic with a balustrade supporting large statues. The Palazzo Senatorio, however, with a facade that is attributed to Rainaldi and Della Porta (although there was an earlier project by Michelangelo) stands on the historcal site of the Tabularium and is distinguished by its converging flights of stairs, designed by Michelangelo and built while the artist was still alive. Inside is a series of famous rooms, including the Sala delle Bandiere that of the Carroccio (or Chariot) The Green Room, The Yellow Room, and the large Council Hall where the Senate Tribune met. The Palazzo Nuovo contains the Capitoline Museum, which is well known both for the wealth of material and for the fact that is the oldest museum collection in the world. Begun by Sixtus V, in 1471, it was enriched by popes Pius V, Clement XII (who opened it to the public), Benedict-XIV, Clement XIII and Pius VI.