Head to the top of the Capitoline Hill for a cultural treat for the whole family. The Capitoline Museums are a series of museums located in Piazza del Campidoglio, the beautiful historic centre of the city. It’s the first of its kind open to the Roman public and visitors, making this spot super-significant and a must-visit if it’s your first time in the city.
Whether you’re scouting out the best ancient experiences in Rome or just looking for a way to spend the afternoon, a visit to the Capitoline Museums is always a good idea.
We’ll take you through some of the most notable things to see in the Capitoline Museums a little later on. But first, let’s find out how to get there from wherever you’re based in the city.
Getting to the Capitoline Museums by train
Rome is home to an excellent public transport system which makes getting around straightforward, even for newcomers. All the buses, trams, trains, and Metros in the Italian capital are owned and operated by the same company. This means you can use any transport you like with the same ticket or pass.
If you’re worried about finding your way around, we recommend picking up a travel pass to see you through your time in Rome. The Roma Pass or Rome Public Transport Card are two great options which you’ll be able to use for the duration of your trip. Simply present your ticket on any public transport, and you’ll be allowed to travel all over the city.
The most popular type of Rome public transport ticket is the 100 minutes option. You can buy one of these for just €1.50 at any tobacco shop, or tabaccheria, and it’ll last you for 100 minutes from the moment you first validate it. This should be enough to get you anywhere in the city centre and even a little outside. You can use this ticket for a bus, tram, Metro, or any combination within the time limit.
Which station is nearest to the Capitoline Museums?
The nearest bus stop is called Ara Coeli/Piazza Venezia. For the Metro, jump off at the Colosseum stop, appropriately called Colleseo.
If you’re visiting the Capitoline Museums from elsewhere in the historical centre, we recommend you walk. Walking through this beautiful part of Rome means you’ll see lots of picturesque streets and squares that you might otherwise miss. It’s our favourite way to experience the area.
Opening Times and Ticket Prices
The Capitoline Museums are open most days of the year, which means you can be flexible with your plans. Excluding Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and the 1st of May, which is an Italian holiday, you can visit the museum whenever you like.
Opening hours are from 09:30 to 19:30 every day, with the last admission at one hour before closing time. The museum also closes at the earlier time of 14:00 on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, but you can still head there for a morning visit.
How much does it cost to visit the Capitoline Museums?
As of June 2020, the ticket prices for the Capitoline Museums are:
Children (under 6)
Young person (age 6-25)
Museum entrance and exhibition:
Museum entrance only:
If you’re visiting on the first Sunday of the month, good news! Entrance to the Capitoline Museums is free for everyone on this day. Concessions and open rates are available to some other visitors, so check the website to see if you qualify.
What to see at the Capitoline Museums
There are lots of things to see at the Capitoline Museums, so it’s a good idea to set aside a full day or at least an afternoon for your visit. The museum is housed throughout two buildings, home to jaw-dropping collections of Ancient Roman statues, medieval and renaissance art, and unique frescos.
Start your tour of the Capitoline Museums at the Palazzo dei Conservatori. The rooms you’ll enter were initially built for the Roman magistrates, or conservators, and are decorated with intricate frescos on the walls. These are home of the museum’s bronze statues, which made up the original collection when they were donated to the Roman people by Pope Sixtus IV.
The Capitoline She-Wolf
The Capitoline She-Wolf is a symbol of Rome. The unique bronze statue has origins in the Middle Ages and was donated to the city, along with many more pieces, in 1471. The twins Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome, were then added to the sculpture, suckling from she She-Wolf. It’s been displayed in the same here spot since the 16th century.
Lo Spiranio, or Boy with Thorn, is a small bronze sculpture which shows a young man removing a thorn from his foot. This piece was also donated in 1471 and is one of the most appreciated works of the Rennaisance.
Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius
The bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback is thought to be from around 176 AD when lots of similar equestrian figures were being built. The emperor had just returned from a triumph over Germanic tribes, and various honours were being made and donated to celebrate his victories. This sculpture is thought to be one of them.
The Palazzo Nuovo is the so-called ‘new’ building of the Capitoline Museums, although it’s by no means modern. Its name comes from the fact it was constructed around 100 years after the first building, Palazzo dei Conservatori, following plans drawn up by Michelangelo.
Colossal statue of Marforio
The first thing you’ll notice as you approach the Palazzo Nuovo is the colossal statue of Marforio, an Ancient Roman River God. Marforio is carved out of pure white marble and can be seen reclining in a typical pose.
This sculpture of Venus was found near the Basilica of San Vitale around in the 1600s. It represents the figure coming out of her bath. Even though it’s carved from marble, Venus’ body appears soft and youthful. This beautiful piece is one of the most treasured at the Capitoline Museums, and it’s easy to see why.
The Capitoline Gaul is another of the most famous sculptures at the museum. It depicts a naked, wounded Gaul, or Galatian man, who seems to be in the last moments before death. This is one of the most significant pieces a the museum, so be sure not to miss it!
Capitoline Museums History and Facts
The Capitoline Museums can be found in Michelangelo’s beautiful Piazza del Campidoglio, which is Rome’s capital and the seat of its government.
The Capitoline Hill is the smallest in Rome. Because of its size and very steep sides, which meant reaching the top difficult for would-be intruders, the hill was chosen as the main stronghold during the foundation of the city.
The Piazza del Campidoglio is more recent but still dates back to the middle of the 15th century. The beautiful square and buildings which line it were famously designed by Michelangelo.
Establishing the museum
The collection began in 1472 when Pope Sixtus IV donated some bronze statues of great value to the people of Rome. These included the Capitoline She-Wolf, the gigantic head of Constantine, and the Boy with a Thorn in his foot. However, the museum wasn’t yet open for public enjoyment.
The Capitoline Museums continued to grow, accommodating more masterpieces throughout the decades. In 1734, Pope Clement XII ordered the museums to be open to the public. This was a significant step. Art was becoming more accessible to people from all backgrounds, not just the monarchy and ultra-rich. Today, the collections are still closely linked to Rome, with most of the pieces coming from the city itself.
The collections at the Capitoline Museums saw considerable expansion towards the end of the 19th century. Rome was declared the capital of newly unified Italy, which meant lots of excavations to build new residential areas. With these excavations emerged new historical gems to add to the museum collections. As well as this, some donations from private collectors, like Castellani and Cini, helped boost the standard.
The Capitoline Coin and Medal Collections were also established during this time. These were thanks to donations from private collectors and lots of pieces discovered during excavations throughout the city.
The Capitoline Museums remain the greatest in Ancient Rome thanks to their collections, architecture, and historical significance.
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops near the Capitoline Museums
Feeling hungry? You’re in the Italian capital, which means lots of delicious food around every corner. And the area around the Piazza del Campidoglio is no exception. Here are some of our favourite spots near the Capitoline Hill.
Terre e Domus
This fantastic restaurant is located at the base of the hill. It’s a perfect choice for seasonal Roman food, with a menu that highlights local produce at its best. Bag a table beside the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows and enjoy views of Trajan’s Column and the Roman Forum. This is considered one of the few worthwhile options in the hectic, touristy part of the city.
Il Giardino Romano
Il Giardino Romano serves great Roman food in a cosy and traditional atmosphere. It’s a perfect choice for delicious pasta or meat dishes close to the Capitoline Museums. The menu is seasonal, so expect to see lots of the same ingredient in dishes depending on what’s good when you visit.
Taverna dei Fori Imperiali
For great ambience, location, and food, you can’t do better than Taverna dei Fori Imperiali. This cosy family restaurant focuses on quality ingredients and traditional techniques, with a menu that always concentrates on seasonal specials. If you can, grab a table on the terrace and enjoy the atmosphere of the area while you dine.
Shopping near the Capitoline Museums
The Capitoline Museums Bookshop is our favourite place to browse after experiencing the beautiful collections. You can find the shop in the Piazza del Campidoglio, near the museum’s main entrance. You won’t need a ticket to enter, which means you can pop by on any day or head exclusively to the shop if you’ve visited the collections before.
Discover a selection of books, with everything from scholarly reviews to exquisitely illustrated guides. Perhaps a classic Latin option appeals to you? Or, pick up a traditional Roman cookbook and recreate all your favourite dishes at home. Many books in the Capitoline Museums bookshop are available in several languages, which means there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
As well as this unique bookshop, you’ll find lots more retail opportunities near the Capitoline Museums. Explore the area and see what you stumble upon!
Whenever you visit the Capitoline Museums, we’re sure you’ll enjoy an experience like no other. Why not combine your day with tours of some more nearby attractions, like the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum? Lots of the city’s most iconic ancient monuments are close together in the historical centre, which makes exploring the best of Rome a breeze.
Travelling to Rome by train
Italy is blessed with a fantastic high-speed railway network, making it easy to travel to Rome by train. Roma Termini is the main railway station in the capital and it's served by several speedy services, including Trenitalia's Frecciarossa ("Red Arrow") services and Italo trains. Thanks to high-speed trains, you can get from Florence or Naples to Rome in under 1h 20m, Milan to Rome in 3h 10m and Venice to Rome in 3h 26m.
And if you're travelling onwards from Rome, why not continue by train? The capital has links to Venice, Florence, Milan, Verona and Genoa - to name but a few places you can reach by rail! So why not hop on a train and say arrivederci to Rome!