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 the bronze Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius.
- 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.
Location of the Capitoline Museums
The Capitoline Museums are situated in the heart of Rome, just off Piazza Venezia.
They are on top of the Capitoline Hill, one of the famous 7 hills of Rome. In ancient times, it was an oddly shaped hill with two peaks. The city’s biggest and most important temple to Jupiter was on the larger one, and the temple to Juno was on the smaller, higher one.
Today the hill is surrounded by many fascinating structures and places to visit, for example:
- The Ancient Roman Forum
- The Theatre of Marcellus
- The former Jewish Ghetto
- The monumental Vittoriano, built to celebrate Italian Unification in the 19th century
- The Basilica Santa Maria in Ara Coeli (where the Temple of Juno was)
The Capitoline Museums are one of the easiest museums in Rome to visit. They are open at the same time every day and can welcome large numbers of visitors, but despite its incredible collection, it never gets too crowded.
- Open: Monday to Sunday, 09.30 – 19.30
- Reduced hours: 24, 31 December, 1 January
- Closed: 1 May and 25 December
Tickets & Prices
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.
Decide which Capitoline Museums ticket is right for you: we break down the two options for entrance available.
- Guided Tour (Skip The Line) – Beat the queues with this skip-the-line guided tour ticket.
- Roman Empire Museum + Ancient Rome Multimedia Experience – Get reserved entry into the Capitoline Museum along with an introductory video experience of what life was like in ancient Rome.
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 a photo ID.
- The museum is open from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm.
- The last entry is one hour before closing time.
Discounts and Free Entrance
Will you be in Rome on the first Sunday of the month? Every month, public museums throughout Italy, including the Capitoline Museums, are free for everyone on the first Sunday. There are no skip-the-line options these days, so be ready to wait to collect your free ticket and go through security.
If you’re seeing Rome on a budget, you can get a 50% discount on Wednesday afternoons 2 hours before closing (17.30-19.30). You won’t have time to visit everything but will be able to see our Top 10 suggestions.
Getting to the Capitoline Museums
The closest metro stop is Colosseo. From there, walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali towards the large, white Vittoriano monument. Before you get there, take the road on the left that curves up the hill (or the steps if you’re feeling energetic).
The road from Via dei Fori Imperiali to Musei Capitolini
From Piazza Venezia
Most visitors arrive at the museums via Michelangelo’s staircase on the corner of Piazza Venezia.
Arriving at Musei Capitolini from Piazza Venezia
With the staircase and the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in front of you, you’ll see the City Hall at the back of the square and two similar buildings on either side with identical signs. It’s a bit confusing, but the entrance is in the building on the right.
Under the arcade, you’ll see two open doors.
The first is the ticket office. Only stop here if you haven’t already bought your ticket or if you want an audio guide. If you have an e-ticket ticket but want an audio guide, tell the staff member outside and they’ll make sure you don’t have to wait in the ticket line.
A short line outside the ticket office
If you have an e-ticket, go directly to the second door where a sign outside says ‘ingresso biglietti online’ – online ticket entrance.
The entrance for ticket holders
When you step inside, a member of staff will scan your ticket, you then need to put anything metal in your bag so they can scan it (your phone can go on top of the machine) and step through the gate.
You can’t carry bags in the museum, but staff will direct you to the free cloakroom where there are self-service lockers for bags and umbrellas. Just pick a locker and take the key with you – no coins required.
Leave your bags here while you visit the museum
Navigating the Capitoline Museums
The museums are 2 buildings facing each other across the square. The entrance is in Palazzo dei Conservatori and the exit is on the other side (though you can also exit from the first building if you want), in Palazzo Nuovo.
The two buildings are connected by an underground passage.
The Underground passage connecting the 2 buildings
The normal route takes you upstairs in Palazzo dei Conservatori first. You can visit the 2 floors of the permanent collection and a temporary exhibition space on the 3rd floor. As well as the objects on display, you will be amazed by the frescoes that cover the walls and the history of the building before it became a museum.
Fresco in Palazzo dei Conservatori
Then you go down to the basement, along the tunnel, stop to see the view of the Forum, continue down the tunnel and come out in Palazzo Nuovo on the other side of the square.
This building is much smaller. It was purpose built as a museum and there are only 2 floors with the rooms all leading into one another. If you’re feeling tired after seeing Palazzo dei Conservatori, don’t decide to skip Palazzo Nuovo. The statues are concentrated together by theme into a few rooms, eg the Room of the Emperors.
A map showing the different floors in 2 buildings
The Audio/Video Guide
If, like me, you get inside the museum, realize there are too few written explanations and decide you want an audio guide, you can leave from the courtyard to go to the ticket office as long as you have your ticket to get back in.
The audio guide costs €7 and you have to leave a document (ID or driving license) at the desk as a guarantee.
In return, you get a tablet and some disposable headphones, which can comfortably be shared between 2 people. The staff talk you through the options for the video guide – click on images of the room and objects you want to explore – or the audio guide – type in the number displayed next to the object you want to hear about.
I found the guide to be engaging. It gives the right amount of information, doesn’t try to cover everything and it’s easy to jump around. It also contains a map so you know where you are.
For Limited Mobility
Wheelchair users can reach the museum from Via dei Fori Imperiali. The road is pretty steep, but it is accessible to taxis.
The ticket office isn’t accessible however, so when you reach the museum, you need to call for assistance.
Wheelchair users should call for assistance at the entrance
Inside the museum there are elevators to access the upper floors on both sides.
An elevator inside the ancient foundations for accessibility
Where there are no elevators, stairlifts are available for you to access the basement and the Tabularium. There are staff available in every room and they will operate the stairlifts for you.
Stairlifts for wheelchair users to reach the underground tunnel and access the Tabularium
At the top of the stairs, a ramp leads to one of the best views in the city
If you don’t think you’ll be able to walk for hours, the museum has some wheelchairs available for visitors. They recommend you call (+39) 0667102071 in advance and book one so that it’s ready for you when you arrive.
For the Visually Impaired
The museum has braille signs and floor plans throughout the museums and some of the most important pieces have tactile displays for blind and visually impaired visitors.
A tactile version of Caravaggio’s John the Baptist with Braille description
John the Baptist (Youth with a Ram) by Caravaggio
A floor plan in Italian, English and Braille
Model of the museum with Braille description
When you are ready for a break, there is a cafeteria on the second floor of Palazzo dei Conservatori where you can buy drinks and food.
There is also a restaurant with seating on the terrace.
Outside seating on the terrace
Like many bars in Rome, you need to pay at the cash desk before you order. Unfortunately, this can be difficult as the catering isn’t managed by the museum and the staff in the bar only speak Italian.
I would suggest eating outside the museum before or after your visit as you’ll have more choice and better service. Do come up here though to enjoy the view – you can access the terrace without buying anything – perhaps with a coffee or glass of wine when you need to recharge your energy for the rest of the visit.
The Gift Shop
On the way out, there’s a small gift shop, mostly selling books for adults and children, and a few other items like magnets, postcards and cups.
Children’s books for sale in the gift shop
What to See in the Capitoline Museums
You’ll need about 4 hours to see everything with the audio guide. If you don’t have that kind of time, here are 10 highlights you shouldn’t miss:
1. Marcus Aurelius (Palazzo dei Conservatori)
The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius is one of the few bronze statues to be intentionally preserved from antiquity. This one survived because the church mistakenly thought it was Constantine. It stood for years outside the cathedral of St. John Lateran before Pope Paul III moved to the square outside.
In the 80s a copy was put in the square outside and the original was moved to a bright, glass covered room at the heart of the museum.
The Hall of Marcus Aurelius
2. The Pope’s Bronzes (Palazzo dei Conservatori)
The 5 statues that started the collection are still in the museum. They include the She-Wolf, the symbol of Rome that you’ll see all around the city, and a young boy calmly removing a thorn from his foot and a metal sphere once rumored to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar.
The Boy with a Thorn, one of the original bronzes donated by the pope
Detail of the She-Wolf with Romulus and Remus
3. The Best View of the Forum (under Palazzo Senatorio)
After you’ve visited the floors of Palazzo dei Conservatori, head down into the basement where an underground tunnel connects the two buildings.
Halfway along are some steps that lead to the remains of the Tabularium, the ancient records library used as the foundations for Palazzo Senatorio. From here, enjoy one of the city’s most memorable and photogenic views over the Roman Forum, with the Colosseum in the distance.
View of the Roman Forum from Musei Capitolini
4. Bernini’s Bust of Medusa (Palazzo dei Conservatori)
Usually shown as a terrifying monster (often having lost her head), Medusa could turn anyone who looked at her to stone. But Bernini’s stone Medusa shows her vulnerability and pain at the moment she sees herself reflected in Perseus’ shield and realizes what’s about to happen.
5. Two Giant Statues of Constantine (Palazzo dei Conservatori)
In the courtyard when you enter is one of the most famous images of the museum – the head, feet, hands and arms of a colossal statue of a young Constantine are lined up along one wall like a piece of modern art. The clothes would have been made of wood, with just the emperor’s flesh made from the marble that has survived.
Colossal statue of Constantine in the courtyard
Bronze colossal statue of Constantine in the Hall of Marcus Aurelius
6. Piano Nobile (Palazzo dei Conservatori)
On the first floor, many of the rooms are covered in bright paintings with scenes from ancient Rome. The most impressive is right at the top of the stairs – the Room of Orazi and Curiazi is an enormous ceremonial hall where the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.
Room of Orazi and Curiazi
Detail from the Room of Orazi and Curiazi
7. Foundations of the Temple of Jupiter (Palazzo dei Conservatori)
The largest and most important temple in ancient Rome once stood on this spot. Although the temple didn’t survive, part of the foundations did, and one corner has been put on display in the museum. Look at the size of the blocks and imagine how massive the temple must have been.
The foundation wall and a model of the Temple of Jupiter
Statue of Heracles in front of the Foundations of the Temple of Jupiter
8. The View From the Café Terrace (Palazzo dei Conservatori)
There are lots of stunning views in Rome, and this one has to be among the best. You’ll get a great view of the Theatre of Marcellus across the road and the square dome of the Great Synagogue and even at a distance you’ll easily spot St. Peter’s. But can you find the Pantheon?
View of Rome from the museum cafe with St. Peter’s in the background
9. Capitoline Venus (Palazzo Nuovo)
Generations of artists and Grand Tourists came to Rome to see this statue and her legendary perfection. Caught as she’s about to take a bath, Venus is attempting to cover her nudity with her hands. Despite her modesty, she was considered too racy for the papal collection and was donated to the public museum in the 18th century.
10. The Dying Gaul (Palazzo Nuovo)
The Dying Gaul is a Roman copy of a Greek statue showing a young man who has been defeated in battle. He seems so sad and hopeless, lying next to his broken sword with his head hanging down and a stab wound in his side.
The Dying Gaul
Did You Know That: 3 Interesting Facts
- The Capitoline Museums are believed to be the oldest museum in the world.
- Though Michelangelo designed much of the Capitoline Museums, including Palazzo Nuovo, he would die before they were finished.
- 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.
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 open to the public.
- 1737. The Dying Gaul is added to the collection by Pope Clement XII.
- The late 1930s. The Galleria Lapidaria, an underground passageway linking the two buildings, is built.
Some More Photos From the Museum
A relief of the emperor Hadrian
Pope Innocent X
Pope Urban VIII
Ancient bronze of Brutus
A bronze horse discovered in Trastevere
Lion attacking horse
Charles I of Anjou
Inside the Picture Gallery
The Egyptian Room
Detail from a sarcophagus
The Empress Helena
Room of the Philosophers
The Capitoline Museums are not free to enter. You must purchase a hosted entry or guided tour ticket.
The Capitoline Museums are certainly worth visiting. They are believed to be the oldest museum in the world and host a collection of ancient sculptures and some of the most iconic statues.
Expect to spend anywhere between 45 minutes to a few hours inside the Capitoline Museums. The guided tour is 3 hours long.
Address: Capitoline Museums, Piazza del Campidoglio 1, 00186 Roma, Italy · view larger map