Amyleigh. Winchester, England.
An archaeologist & RE specialist with an abundance of love for makeup, nature & architecture photography, comics, taxidermy & a good cuppa.
Hello you lovely bunch, I hope you have been enjoying my posts on my recent trip to Rome and I apologise if you haven't because well, this is another one and there's still maybe 6 or 7 to go... Sorry not sorry. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I loved Rome, it was absolutely gorgeous so there's lots of photographs and places I feel need a mention on NB. Today's post is focusing on a museum which was a spontaneous visit: The Capitoline Museums. The Capitoline Museums (Musei/Museo Capitolini) are 3 main buildings situated on top of Capitoline Hill - the smallest hill in Rome. This museum has it's own lovely bustling courtyard, Piazza del Campidoglio, which has replicas of some of the most famous artefacts found inside the museum buildings. The museum's history has been open to the public since 1734 and has close links to Michelangelo in it's design and it's pretty amazing to look at.
We initially wandered up to the Piazza and the museums by mistake. We had spent the morning and early afternoon dying from the heat walking around the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum (see that post here!) and once we left there, we wandered up Capitoline Hill seeking shade and a wee place to stop and have a think about what we were going to do next. Sitting in the piazza, we realised this grand place was in fact a museum and so we were intrigued and wandered over the ticket reception but weren't thrilled by the price. If I remember rightly, I think it was around 15 euros each which we came to discover was not a bad price for how much you get to see, but it was more than even the Vatican Museums price so it's something to bear in mind if you don't know whether you should visit or not! After admitting defeat from the 37 degree heat (I'm a poet and I don't even know it) we begrudgingly paid the entrance fee but I'm oh so glad we did.
The museum is a tightly ran ship when it comes to security. You will be given two tickets which both need to be shown to security at the entrance and then you and any bags you may have with you need to go through a scanner similar to those at the airport. Once inside, you are directed to a cloak room where you must leave your backpacks. Things like bottles of water are allowed into the museum because duh, it's so hot, but bags and coats etc. are stored in lockers for which you will need to hold onto the key for whilst inside. This all happens within the first building you will naturally enter which is the 16th century Palazzo dei Conservatori (which for all you architecture history buffs out there is the first building which Michelangelo redesigned to include the giant order column design). This palace has three floors of historical delights ranging from famous bronzes that has been stored on Capitoline Hill since the late 1400s, to other sculptures from the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians, to tapestries and a pretty impressive art gallery.
Although this is the first building you will enter, it is easily the most impressive. The collection in Palazzo dei Conservatori is vast and ranges to and from so many items, dates and designs that it will be a treasure trove for anyone interested in history, archaeology, or art. When we visited, the museum was quite busy but despite this it was quiet and a very welcomed air-conditioned break from the beaming sun outside. The weather was great in Rome but one thing I highly recommend is spending the hours between 12pm-3pm indoors or in the shade so this big museum was a great option for us.
I think something that really struck me about all the museums/public areas I visited in Rome was the level of architecture both outdoors and inside. Compared to a lot of museums in the UK which can be quite minimalist and clean-cut in their presentation for example, Rome boasts buildings which themselves are steeped in history and culture so it only adds to the history and feel of the artefacts they house. As you can see from the pictures above, even looking up at the ceilings in this place was amazing. But now let's talk about the other accessible building: Palazzo Nuovo. This second museum if you like was designed by Michelangelo and was constructed in the 17th century with the idea that it would identically mirror Palazzo dei Conservatori. Palazzo Nuovo stands opposite Palazzo dei Conservatori across the piazza and houses a lot of sculptures from various periods and a lot of Roman copies of original Hellenistic sculptures (notably Cupid and Psyche and The Dying Gaul are found in this palace).
It is worth mentioning that this building is not as air conditioned and cool as Palazzo dei Conservatori as it does not have paintings etc that need to be temperature controlled. It does however house some modern art as well as historic so if that's your bag, you might want to take a peek at this place. Now you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd need to dart across the piazza to visit this second building but nope, you go through a tunnel underground! The Galleria Congiunzione was created in the 1930s to link all three Capitoline buildings up and particularly to make the two museum buildings easy for visitors to navigate. Now I've got to say, this tunnel was so bizarre and unlike anything I had ever been in because it just seemed otherwordly. As you can imagine (and see below) it was a low lit long corridor which had ruins from Roman dwellings on display as well as the museum's collection of epigraphs. The ceiling was painted with lettered star constellations and music that sounds like you're in a village from Final Fantasy plays as you wander through. I've honestly not felt a museum feel so surreal even though I can't put my finger on why it made me feel like that (it was blatantly the "we're going on an adventure!" type music).
I'd really recommend this museum if you happen to be in the area and it's easy to feed it into a day spent at the Colosseum etc. like we did. Like I said earlier, if you're in Rome between Jun-August, the heat can get pretty unbearable at midday so if you need a rest break but don't want to waste it in your hotel room etc. definitely consider finding a museum stop off point somewhere near to where you're exploring because there is bound to be one. There is also some beautiful churches in this area (one of which I will be posting about soon - it was my favourite spot in all of Rome, no joke!) and I have to give an honorary mention to Atare della Patria which is a staggeringly huge and hard to avoid monument nestled close to Musei Capitolini and the Roman Forum areas. This monument is insane. It does house a small museum which I believe is around 5 euros to enter, but it's the outside that you really need to look at and enjoy. So until you can get there yourself, take a look at my pictures below and I hope you enjoyed this post!