The first modern civic square in Rome, Piazza del Campidoglio was designed by Michelangelo in 1536. Perched at the top of the Capitoline Hill overlooking the Roman Forum, the space is lined by the monumental Cordonata staircase and three Renaissance palaces, now home to city hall and the Capitoline Museums.
Piazza del Campidoglio was commissioned by Pope Paul III on the occasion of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s visit, and Michelangelo laid out the square to face St. Peter’s Basilica, turning its back on the Roman Forum. He also designed new facades for Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Senatorio and built Palazzo Nuovo to complement the older palaces. Today, Palazzo Senatorio houses city hall, and the other two palaces house the Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini), with vast collections of classical sculpture, Renaissance paintings, and archaeological artifacts. Michelangelo also designed the square’s sweeping Cordonata Steps, unique geometric paving, and setting for the central equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.
Piazza del Campidoglio is a stop on many guided walking, bike, and Segway tours of Rome’s highlights. Guided city tours generally visit other top attractions such as the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and may include skip-the-line tickets to the Colosseum and Vatican.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is no shade in the square, so be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen if visiting on foot or bike in the hot summer months.
- The square is flat and well paved, easily navigable by wheelchair or with a stroller.
- Photography enthusiasts will enjoy the view from the square atop the Capitoline Hill.
- There are no restaurants or cafés along the square, but the museum has a rooftop café overlooking Rome.
How to Get There
Piazza del Campidoglio is located behind the famous Vittoriano monument in Piazza Venezia, where a number of bus and tram lines stop. You can also take metro line B to the Colosseo stop and walk about 10 minutes to Piazza del Campidoglio.
When to Get There
With no shade, Piazza del Campidoglio can be very hot during the midday hours. Time your visit for early in the morning or later in the afternoon, when the temperatures are milder and the light better for photographs.
Highlights of the Capitoline Museums
The Capitoline Museums on Piazza del Campidoglio are home to a number of important works of art, including the Capitoline Wolf (Lupa capitolina), a bronze statue of Romulus and Remus suckling a she-wolf; and The Dying Gaul (Galata Morente), dating from ancient Rome. There are also masterpieces by Caravaggio, Titian, Pietro da Cortona, and Guercino.