Capitoline Museums

Visit the World’s Oldest Museum on Capitoline Hill.

See some of the most iconic statues in Rome at the Capitoline Museums: the Capitoline Wolf, Dying Gaul, and bronze Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius.

Highlights

  • See the statue said to represent Rome itself: the Capitoline Wolf.
  • Compare shoe size with the giant ruined remains of the Colossus of Constantine.
  • Admire what is believed to be the only intact bronze statue of antiquity – the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius.

Tickets & Prices

Decide which Capitoline Museums ticket is right for you: we break down the two options for entrance available.

Regular tickets

Buying a ticket online beforehand will allow you to skip the queue to purchase tickets, and allow you to explore the museum without waiting in line.

You will need to book a date and time slot for visiting the museum, and the ticket is only valid for your chosen booking.

Important ticket information:

  • If there is an exhibition at the museum, you will have to pay an extra price for it. The regular ticket price only includes normal admission (when there isn’t an exhibition at the museum).
  • The ticket is valid for your chosen date.
  • You may be asked for photo ID.
  • The museum is open from 9:30 am to 7:30:pm.
  • Last entry is one hour before closing time.

Regular ticket + exhibition

The regular ticket + exhibition works in virtually the same way as the simple regular ticket. It allows you to skip the line, and will need to be booked at a certain time and date.

But this ticket includes an extra charge for an exhibition within the museum: when there is an exhibition, there is no regular ticket available – you have to pay the extra charge if you want to enter (though the exhibitions are usually worth it!).

The additional ticket information is the same as shown for the regular ticket.

What to see and do 

The Capitoline Museums has some of the most iconic works of the ancient world within its walls. We will lead you through a few of the most famous artifacts and sculptures on display, as well as the two buildings that comprise the museum.

Capitoline Wolf

Undoubtedly the most recognizable figure in the Capitoline Museums, the Capitoline Wolf, or ‘She-wolf’ is an iconic symbol of Rome.

The story of Romulus and Remus is a fascinating origin story in Roman mythology: the twins were raised by a she-wolf, and would later fight to the death, with Romulus, the victor, going on to found Rome. You can view the famous statue in the Palazzo dei Conservatori. 

While the nursing children, Romulus and Remus, were assuredly added during the Renaissance era, the she-wolf, Lupa, is believed to be much older. The dates are hotly contested; for the longest time, it was determined to be of Etruscan origin in the 4th or 5th century BC, but some historians have argued that the bronze wolf is from the medieval period. 

Regardless of its age, the Capitoline Wolf has become the representative symbol of Rome. This icon of ancient mythology has persevered through millenia, and is an image intimately associated with ancient Rome.

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

Believed to be the most intact ancient bronze statue in potentially the world, but certainly Rome, the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius is an impressive example of Roman craftsmanship.

Most ancient statues were melted down and repurposed. The survival of this 175AD Marcus Aurelius statue is really the result of a fortunate case of mistaken identity. Historians had theorized that the statue was of Constantine I, the emperor who first converted to Christianity – its supposed connection to a figure so beloved by the Catholic Church protected it from being destroyed.

You can see the statue of this popular Roman emperor twice when visiting the Capitoline Museums. Once outside in the center of Piazza del Campidoglio, where a replica stands in place of the original, and another inside the Palazzo dei Conservatori, where you can see the genuine article.

The Dying Gaul

The striking figure of the Dying Gaul lying defeated upon his own shield is a poignant image that shows both a revelry in a Roman victory and a respect for a worthy opponent.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that this marble statue gained its name – before this, it had been known as the ‘dying gladiator’. The Dying Gaul is one of the most celebrated surviving statues of antiquity. You will find it in the Palazzo Nuovo among the greater collection of marble sculptures displayed there.

Bust of Medusa

This Bernini work showcases one of the most dramatic and famous figures in all of mythology. The Bust of Medusa is a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship and is supposed to represent the figure in a moment of anguish.

Bernini shows his genius in carving stone into something life-like: this marble Medusa appears almost living, with the despair clear in her expression, and the snakes twisting above her head. You can see one of the finest works of Bernini, the creator of Baroque sculpture, in person at the Capitoline Museums.

Palazzo dei Conservatori

Palazzo dei Conservatori is where it all began for the Capitoline Museums. This is where Pope Sixtus IV housed the collection of donated bronze statues all the way back in 1471.

It was redesigned a century or so later by one of the greatest minds and artists in history; Michelangelo. You can see the beautiful facade created by Michelangelo before you head inside the museum.

Many of the most famous works in the Capitoline Museums are housed here. As the Palazzo dei Conservatori holds the bronze statues of the collection, you can expect to see both the Capitoline Wolf and the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius here. It also has the ruins of the Colossus of Constantine, a hall of tapestries, and a number of works of art.

Palazzo Nuovo

Though this is named the “new palace”, it is only 100 years younger than its counterpart across the Piazza del Campidoglio. The Palazzo Nuovo is filled with exquisite works of art: it is here that you will find the elegant marble sculptures so commonly associated with the ancient world.

Visiting Palazzo Nuovo will allow you to truly admire the skill and craftsmanship of the Roman sculptors. You can see unmissable pieces of art, including the Dying Gaul, Bernini’s Bust of Medusa, and the Capitoline Venus.

The two palaces are linked by an underground passageway called the Galleria Lapidaria, which follows an ancient road between the two. There are displays of ancient inscriptions and exhibits within the corridor itself.

Directions

The Capitoline Museums are very central, situated at the end of the Roman Forum, and a short walk from Piazza Venezia at Piazza del Campidoglio 1 on Capitoline Hill.

The metro isn’t particularly close. The nearest stop is at Colosseo (Line B), which is around 10-15 minutes away on foot.

Catching the bus brings you a little nearer, with the Piazza Venezia stop just around the corner. Venezia, the nearest tram stop, is about 5 minutes away.

Did you know that: (3 Interesting Facts!) 

  1. The Capitoline Museums are believed to be the oldest museum in the world.
  2. Though Michelangelo designed much of the Capitoline Museums, including Palazzo Nuovo, he would die before they were finished.
  3. As well as being the oldest museum, the Capitoline Museums also house the oldest public gallery: the Pinacoteca has been open since the mid-1700s.

History

These are some of the most important events in the history of the Capitoline Museums:

  • 1471. Pope Sixtus IV orders the creation of a protected collection of ancient artifacts, with the hope of preserving some of the city’s archaeological heritage.
  • 16th century. Michelangelo designs Piazza del Campidoglio and Palazzo Nuovo, and restores the Palazzo dei Conservatori. 
  • 1654. The second of the Capitoline Museums two buildings, Palazzo Nuovo, is constructed.
  • 1734. The Capitoline Museums are opened to the public.
  • 1737. The Dying Gaul is added to the collection by Pope Clement XII.
  • Late 1930s. The Galleria Lapidaria, an underground passageway linking the two buildings, is built.
Capitoline Museums map

Address: Capitoline Museums, Piazza del Campidoglio 1, 00186 Roma, Italy · view larger map

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