Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Capitol, Rome

The Capitol is the ancient citadel of Rome that has been turned into a center for a handful of museums and monuments. The hill is dominated from the bottom by the Victor Emmanuel Monument, a huge (even by Rome's standard)  memorial to Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, the first king of Italy when it was reunified in the 1800s. Construction began in 1885 (seven years after his death) and was finally finished in 1911. Viewers wouldn't even know there's a hill behind it!

Victor Emmanuel Monument, so large it almost obscures the sun!

Around to the right of the monument is the Cordonata, a gently winding ramp and staircase that leads to the top of the Capitoline Hill.


At the top is the Piazza del Campidoglio, a plaza designed by Michelangelo at the request of Pope Paul III. Progress was very slow, not reaching completion until the 1600s, long after Michelangelo's death. The palaces surrounding the plaza were government buildings but now house the Capitoline Museums.

Statue of Marcus Aurelius

Fountain at the Palazzo Senatorio

The most interesting thing to J and L was not the fabulous architecture or statues, but the nativity in one of the porches.

Roman-style nativity

More detail from the nativity

Yet more details

In one corner they had some bicycle-powered Christmas trees. Visitors were invited to pedal and thereby light up the tree. A display next to the stationary bikes explained how much electricity was being saved. I for one was concerned about the energy depletion of my children, whom I might have to carry later because they used up all their calories!

The real problem came when J said he needed to use the toilet. A local policeman explained in broken English that the museums were already closed and we'd have to go up to the top of the hill to the public restroom. I took J up yet more steps and wound around the Victor Emmanuel Monument's roof until we found the toilet. Luckily the line was short and the views from the monument were spectacular.
Imperial forums

Roman Forum

We didn't go into the museums but did get to see a replica of the famous She-Wolf Suckling Romulus and Remus statue as we walked down the back of the hill.

She-wolf statue

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