logo Vaycaypedia

your travel guide

« Go to List « Go to Map

Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome

Overview

Piazza del Campidoglio
Piazza del Campidoglio

Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius
Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius

Photo by Ore.e Refineries on Wikimedia Commons

Replica of the capitoline she-wolf at the northern corner of Palazzo senatorio, Rome, Italy
Replica of the capitoline she-wolf at the northern corner of Palazzo senatorio, Rome, Italy

Piazza del Campidoglio is a hilltop square on Capitoline Hill, lined with museums & offering views of the Roman forum. In the center, there is the equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The piazza was designed by Michelangelo to solve the problems of irregular, trapezoid plazas, which sloped to left. The plan was to remodel the palazzi façades creating a trapezoidal space, with the wide ramp stairs reaching the piazza to its narrow side. In the middle Michelangelo's plan was a central statue, the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in bronze, on a simple pedestal. In 1981 the original, which is an ancient Roman statue and considered to be the first equestrian statue in the Roman Empire, was moved in the Capitoline Museums, and a copy replaced the original in the piazza. Around the statue there is an oval paving pattern, with a twelve-pointed star. It was designed by Michelangelo but implemented only in 1940 by Benito Mussolini. On the left of the Palazzo Senatorio there is a copy of the Capitoline Wolf statue, representing the she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus. It is surrounded several palazzi, Palazzo dei Conservatori, Palazzo Caffarelli Clementino (now serving as an annex to Palazzo dei Conservatori), and Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo Nuovo, built in the piazza in 1734 after Michelangelo's design, mirroring the existing Palazzo dei Conservatori.

Legends

Bronze goose statue from Capitoline Museums. According to a legend, the geese saved the ancient Rome
Bronze goose statue from Capitoline Museums. According to a legend, the geese saved the ancient Rome

Photo by Jastrow on Wikimedia Commons

The famous legend of the geese saving Rome takes place on Capitoline Hill. Legend has it that the sacred geese of Juno warned Romans of the invasion of the Gauls and saved the city. Because of this, Juno temple, located on the site where Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli stands today, was named "Juno Moneta", from the Latin "monere" (to warn). It is said that when the Gauls invaded northern Italy, after the Romans lost the battle of the Allia in 390 BC. Roman soldiers fled to Veii and, having nothing to stop them in their way, the Gauls marched straight to Rome. The panicked and defenseless citizens of Rome retreated to Capitoline Hill and, aided by the steep and rocky walls of the hill, pushed back the Gauls attacks. After these unsuccessful attacks, the Gauls decided to use the cover of the night to climb the walls into the Capitoline. They were not heard by the guards or their dogs, but miraculously were heard by the sacred geese of Juno from the Capitoline temple, which woke up the Roman soldiers with their honks and cackling. Romans were able to stop and push back the Gauls attack. Thus, the geese saved Rome. Even the end of the story is remarkable. After both parties were hit by starvation and sickness, they agreed to negotiate. It was agreed that the Gauls would retreat from the city if the Romans paid in gold. It was at his time when the Gauls leader, Brennus, uttered the famous words, so intolerable for Romans: 'Vae victis', translated 'Woe to the vanquished!' Meanwhile, the troops that had fled to Veii regrouped under the command of the great Roman military commander Marcus Furius Camillus. The approval of the senate was obtained though a messenger who was able to sneak through the Gaul lines, and Marcus Furius Camillus arrived in Rome just in time to save the Romans from the shameful agreement. It is said that he took the gold from the scale and declared that it was a Roman custom to deliver the city with iron, not with gold. So he ended the agreement and instead fought and defeated the remaining Gaul troops. A statue of a bronze goose is displayed in the Capitoline Museums. It is true that the statue resembles a duck more than a goose, but nonetheless, they might have just had weird-looking geese back then.