Saturday, March 15, 2008

Musei Capitolini

Marcus Aurelius The Dying Gaul
The Capitoline Museums have their origins in a donation of bronze statues by Pope Sixtus IV in 1471. Yes, many popes were avid collectors of all things Greek and Roman. (Sixtus IV was also the pope who founded the Sistine Chapel.) The Capitoline Museums are located on the Campidoglio hill (these days hard to tell) just south of the “wedding cake or typewriter” Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II. (There are some nice audio-guides .mp3 you can download, in different languages, from the Capitoline site above.)

This museum was the winner today for most interesting visit. More relaxed, less crowded, and easier to take in the collection than the Vatican Museum which was the opposite in all respects. There is also surprise view of the Forum, looking down from a part of the museum. As you cross from one part of the museum, under the piazza through a long passage, there is a sign indicating the viewpoint. For some interesting tidbits on what Michelangelo did to help design the Piazza Campidoglio read this.

In the Capitoline Museums there are the famous works: The Dying Gaul, Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius (real one now indoors and copy outside), Capitoline Venus, Lupa Capitolina, and a huge head and hand of Constantine I. As well, the new wing of the museum is build on top of and highlights the foundation of a huge temple to Jupiter. (Part was inside and part was outside in a garden. The reworked museum incorporates it all inside.) In this new section there is also an excellent layout of statues found in the Horti di Mecenate.

The museum is open to about 8pm so you can see it later in the day. We spent about 2 hours and regretted we hadn’t budgeted another 2 hours.
Forum at Night

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