Piazza del Campidoglio

Piazza del Campidoglio - 00186 Rome
Campitelli [R.X]
Centro Storico [1A]

It was the first modern square of Rome that was created by regular project of Michelangelo.
Soon after the preparation of the triumphal way of Carlo V (1536), Paolo III entrusted Michelangelo the construction of a monumental square that would revive the ancient records with a modern garment.

The Scenographique solution of the artist was a trapezoidale terrace of not so big dimensions (53X63 meters). But it became magnificent and harmonious because of the architectural design, the rightness of the proportions and the stylistic consistency predominating the past Foro Romano) and the present (the modern city), gravitating round the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius with Palazzo Senatorio in the background, the Conservative Palaces and the New Palace by sides as if they were theatre wings. The Cordonata which rises in the square and the Balustrade owe to the project of Michelangelo. Both of them are decorated by precious ancient statues. The following interventions of Giacomo della Porta, Girolamo and Carlo Rainaldi did not change but modified the original design.

In the center of the square there is the famous equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, wonderful example of the equestrian imperial statue and one of the few ancient bronzes saved from the destruction or the fusion maybe because it was believed to personify the emperor Constantine, first Christian emperor. It was transported into the Piazza del Campidoglio from the Piazza del Laterano by an order of Paolo III in 1538 despite the protest of Michelangelo

The statue of gilt bronze was placed upon an elegant pedestal designed by Michelangelo and adorned with the farnesian lilies of the pope Paolo III. The traces of the ancient gilding are left on the face and on the coat of the emperor as well as on the head and on the back of the horse.

An ancient legend says that when the gilding all disappear the "owl" will sing (the hair tuft between the ears of the horse which was actually the support aimed to insert a plume) and will announce the universal judgement.The equestrian monuments of the Renaissance and many other in the following centuries were inspired by this statue.

In 1981 the statue stuck by the corrosion caused by the pollution was removed and entrusted to the Central Institute of the Restoration. Today it acquired again the beauty of the ancient gilding and it is possible to admire it in a room from the right side of the courtyard of Musei Capitolini. In the square on the pedestal a copy of the monument has been placed. The drawing of the flooring was realized in 1940.

From the center of the Piazza del Campidoglio the kilometre measures of the Counsil roads start.

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