Capitoline Hill, Rome
Fast Facts

BEST

  for

KIDS

ADDRESS
Piazza del Campidoglio 1
00186 Rome
Italy
CONTACT
ACTIVITIES
Museum
Historic Interest
Architecture
 
 
 
 

Roman sculture of a foot

 

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Traveler
   Rating
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Capitoline Hill may be the lowest and least talked about mount in Rome but there are several reasons to climb the wide-ramped stairs to the summit. Not least because they were designed by Michelangelo to allow horses and donkeys to trudge up it. Piazza del Campidoglio, as the trapezoid-shaped plaza at the top is called, gave us two words, capitol and money, and the world's first museum. Here's how it all got started. Romulus built his house on Palatine but erected an asylum for exiled tribes and arx (military citadel) on Capitoline. Both acted as a barrier to his enemy, the Sabine. The Capitolium, an elaborate temple to Jupiter and Capitoline Triad, was built on Capitoline by Rome's Etruscan kings and gave the hill its name. As the winds of Rome shifted from religion to politics the look of Capitoline Hill changed too. The sacred hill became the center of city government. A commune (city hall) and Senate were built and the Temple of Juno Moneta was converted to a mint. The English word capitol comes from the Latin word capitoline; the English word money from the Latin word moneta. What about the museum? When the Papal See returned to Rome in the Renaissance the winds of change blew once again and Capitoline Hill got another facelift. Pope Paul III commissioned Michelangelo to remodel the buildings and remake the square. His job wasn't easy. The facades didn't face each other squarely and the piazza sloped to one side. To fix the problem Michelangelo made his oval egg-shaped. When the project was complete, nearly 100 years later, the city of Rome had a home for the art and artifacts the papacy no longer valued.
Legend of the Capitoline Geese
One of the most famous stories about Ancient Rome is the legend of the Capitoline Geese. To understand this tale a little history is needed. When Rome was defeated at the river Allia in 390 BC, the Gauls, under Brennus, marched on the city. To escape, the Romans took refuge on Capitoline Hill, which thanks to its steep rocky slopes was easy to defend. But because the hill was home to the city's treasures and seat of Rome's government the Gauls were loath to give up. For 7 months they held the city at siege and camped at the base of Capitoline. One night while the Romans slept the Gauls stole their way up. But before they reached the summit the Capitoline Geese squawked and squawked until the Romans woke up and forced the Gauls to the bottom. Tired but not defeated, the Gauls asked the Romans for a bounty of 1,000 gold lire. The Romans agreed but soon discovered that the scales were fixed. When Brennus shouted vae victus (woe to the vanquished) and threw his sword on the scales to obtain even more Camillus unsheathed his blade and forced the Gauls to flee. While Rome toots this legend as proof of victory the Ancient Romans likely lived in fear until Julius Caesar conquered the whole of Gaul more than 300 years later.
 
 
Traveler Reviews

BEST

  for

KIDS

Too much of a good thing

Submitted on 30 July 2008 by snowedunder from Monza, Italy
Traveler
   Rating
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The problem with the Capitoline Museum is that its large collection is frightfully repetitious. As my 9-year-old daughter pointed out on one recent visit, 'the hundredth bust is ninety nine too many.' 'Especially when they're all in one room.' Having said that, if you plan your visit well and limit your tour to just a few rooms the kids may just come out exclaiming, 'Hey, that was fun.' Of note, while my daughter enjoyed the kids program she felt too old for the group. On the day she attended most kids were aged 6-7.
1 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful?  Yes   No
Write a Review
Traveler
   Rating
Best
 for
Kids
Preview & Post
Travel Trivia
The age of the Saguaro Cactus is determined by:
Free Travel Journal
Get a free kids travel journal to document your family vacation.
Download PDF