GREAT SCULPTURES AND PAINTINGS
Spread over three buildings, the Capitoline Museums, or Musei Capitolini, are home to an incredible collection of sculptures. Fancy getting up close to the great head from the Colossus of Constantine or the Capitoline She-wolf? Then this is the place for you. There’s also a good collection of paintings and lots more besides.
The extensive sculpture collection across three buildings is fantastic, especially the enormous head from the Colossus of Constantine and the Capitoline She-wolf, which are not to be missed!
I was a bit disappointed by the painting collection, although I did find some works by Rubens and Caravaggio. The Palazzo dei Conservatori is also a bit of a maze – the signage is definitely in need of improvement!
Last Modified: 20.04.2023 | Céline
at a glance
Online (official Website)
EUR 11.50 for adults
EUR 9.50 for children and young people aged 6–25 years
Only with credit card and not for the same day
In both cases: Free admission for children under the age of 6
Combination Ticket: EUR 25 With Multimedia Experienceshow less
The Capitoline Museums are on the list of museums and sights you can visit with the Roma Pass.
The Roma Pass is valid for 48 or 72 hours.
-> Find out more about the Roma Pass
The Roma Pass is also included with the 72-hour Omnia Card.
-> Find out more about the Omnia Card
What is there
The Capitoline Museums are housed in three buildings on the Capitoline Hill. They boast several collections of ancient artwork and artefacts, as well as a collection of paintings.
In the Palazzo dei Conservatori you will find the remains of the enormous Colossus of Constantine, the Capitoline She-wolf and the famous Greco-Roman sculpture ‘Spinario’, which depicts a boy pulling a thorn from his foot. The palace also houses the painting gallery, which includes ‘Saint John the Baptist’ by Caravaggio and ‘Romulus and Remus’ by Rubens.
On the other side of the piazza lies the Palazzo Nuovo, where you can see many Ancient Roman portraits and also ‘Marforio’, the famous sculpture of a reclining river god, which is one of the six talking statues of Rome.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit the Tabularium because it was closed when I was there. I’ve heard it offers a wonderful view over the Roman Forum though, so hopefully you’ll have more luck than me! If not, I’d recommend stopping at the café in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which has a great view of the city from the second floor.
A bit of history
The Capitoline Museums claim to be the oldest museum in the world. The reason?
In 1471, Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of ancient bronze sculptures to the people and city of Rome. The collection – which included the Capitoline She-wolf, Spinario and the great head and hand from the Colossus of Constantine – was displayed on the Capitoline Hill, the heart of Ancient Rome and centre of the medieval administration at the time.
In the centuries that followed, more and more sculptures – and later also paintings – were purchased or donated to the city. The vast collection was amassed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori until 1654 when the Palazzo Nuovo was built and the many works were split across multiple buildings.
Although the museum has its origins in the 15th century, the Capitoline Museums were only officially opened in 1734.
(I’ll have to do a bit more research to check whether, despite this, they can still be considered the oldest museum in the world, as I thought that accolade belonged to the Louvre!)
The painting gallery was officially opened in the middle of the 18th century. In the years that followed, the interior of the Palazzo dei Conservatori was renovated and redesigned many times. Ultimately, however, there just wasn’t enough space, so the Tabularium was opened to the public and used to house some of the many works of art.
In 1997, while parts of the museum were under renovation, some pieces were also moved to the Centrale Montemartini. This temporary exhibition space – located a little further afield in the Testaccio district of Rome – proved such a success that in 2005 it was made an official part of the Capitoline Museums.
That same year, the Palazzo Clementino, which adjoins the Palazzo dei Conservatori, was also incorporated into the museum. Among the highlights on display in its newly renovated galleries is the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.