Rome’s Capitoline Hill is an architectural jewel at the heart of the city, rising elegantly above the chaos of Piazza Venezia and the Via dei Fori Imperiali. For the ancients, the Capitol represented the seat of divine power and the rule of law. Monumental temples to Juno and Jupiter were erected here, towering over the Forum below. After the fall of Rome, the Capitol endured for centuries as a symbol of republican ideals, and indeed remains the seat of the Roman municipal government today.
The Capitoline Hill is also famous for its gorgeous piazza, the Campidoglio, which was designed by Michelangelo in the 16th century. The Renaissance master seamlessly incorporated ancient marbles and statues into his design, drawing inspiration from the classical ideals of harmony and order. An ancient equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius – the last of the Five Good Emperors – sits at the center of the square, his arm raised in a stoic greeting to visitors climbing the low, long stairs of the cordonata. Behind him sits the Palazzo Senatorio, at the edge of the Forum, and he is flanked by the two palaces that house the Capitoline Museum, which has been open to the public since 1734 and is often cited as the first museum of the modern world.
When I returned to Rome in January after a long sojourn in the US, the Capitoline was one of the first places I visited to get re-acquainted with Rome. No matter how many times I go there I am always struck anew by its beauty. And no matter how many photos I already have of the Campidoglio and surrounding gardens, I can’t resist clicking away. Below are a handful of photographs from that bright winter afternoon.