Rome – Capitoline Museum & Victor Emmanuel Monument

Hi friends, welcome back to my Italy series! On our second full day in Rome, we had an unanticipated free morning because our Colosseum tour got rescheduled for the afternoon. Some people would use this extra time to sleep in and maybe enjoy a relaxing breakfast, but not me.  We decided to spend our morning at the Capitoline Museum because it was on the way to the Colosseum and on my list if we had extra time. On our way we passed by the Victor Emmanuel Monument. It’s hard to miss and located next to Piazza del Campidoglio. It’s named after Italy’s first king and was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Italy’s unification in 1861. The base of the monument has Italy’s’ Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and soldiers guard the eternal flame. Inside the building is a museum and you can also pay to visit the rooftop terrace for incredible views. We didn’t make it up, but it’s on the list for next time.

Capitoline Museum  is located in the famous Piazza del Campidoglio and we walked through it when we visited the Santa Maria in Aracoeli Church. This square was designed by Michelangelo and is one of Rome’s seven hills. In fact, it’s the tallest but smallest hill and overlooks the Roman Forum. It used to be home to the Temple of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva but now it’s home to Rome’s oldest museum and the mayoral palace. The statue in the middle of the piazza is a copy of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The original is inside the museum for preservation.


The museum is split into two buildings that connect underground. Most of the important pieces are in the building on the right where the entrance is. Upon entering the museum (we had no issue buying tickets onsite), the courtyard is full of pieces of a massive Constantine statue that used to be at the entrance of the Basilica of Constantine in the Forum. When the statue is intact it reaches 30 feet tall.

Some notable pieces inside the museum:

Boy Extracting a Thorn by Spinario

The original Emperor Marcus Aurelius statue.

Brutus – the glass eyes are pretty freaky, but they must be that way in order to assassinate Caesar.

Capitoline She-Wolf  – represents the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus

Medusa by Bernini

Bust of Michelangelo Buonarroti

Commodus as Hercules from the second century– Commodus was the son of Marcus Aurelius, but he was a hated emperor. He wanted to be a gladiator and would fight, but nobody was allowed to kill him.

Capitoline Venus

There’s a lot to see in the Capitoline Museum. Jon and I spent more time here than I thought, and we would’ve stayed a tad longer if we didn’t have our Forum tour to join.

We loved the views of the Forum from the passage between the two museum buildings.

We enjoyed touring this museum, especially because it wasn’t crowded and had great views of the Forum.  If you’re only in Rome a few days I don’t think it’s an absolute must to see the Capitoline Museum, but if you have extra time in your day, it’s definitely worth considering. Stay tuned for our tour of the Forum.

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29 thoughts on “Rome – Capitoline Museum & Victor Emmanuel Monument

  1. Ahhhh, the Wedding Cake Building. Striking monument for sure. Love the sculpture museum Lyssy. Like you, we could study good sculptures for hours. The forum ruins are a nice add to the area. Wish our time in Rome had been a bit longer. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    1. Striking indeed I’d love to see the views from the roof one day. No matter how many sculptures we see, we’re always amazed at them. Overlooking the Forum was a great preview of our tour.

  2. I hadn’t heard of the Capitoline Museum before, but I want to visit there if I ever get to Rome. (See you inspire my wanderlust!) Your photos of the forum from the museum are beautiful, Lyssy. The Victor Emanuel Monument is stunning. It’s amazing how many beautiful things there are at every turn in Rome. I’m looking forward to your forum post.

    1. There’s so much to see at every corner in Rome! We saw so much but only scratched the surface. It was a great museum definitely worth checking out!

  3. I also really like the view from between the museum buildings! It looks far more like an ancient historic site than a present day city.

  4. Wow, what a fantastic place to discover Rome’s history through medieval art and ancient statues – I am glad to hear that you were able to squeeze in a visit to the Capitoline Museum. It can be overwhelming to figure out the best things to do on your first visit to Rome, especially if you do not think you will return soon. There’s so much history, art, and architecture all around you! Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    1. It was an impressive museum, I’m glad we made it in. You’re right it’s overwhelming narrowing down the itinerary when there’s so much to see. I’ve already got a long list for next time 🙂

  5. The Victor Emmanuel monument is an amazing structure and the round piazza is a unique place to visit. I loved the tour of the museum, so much amazing art and history.

    1. The monument and piazza are so impressive! So much beauty everywhere in Rome. So glad you enjoyed this tour 🙂

  6. I’m like you in that I always use the best of my free time whenever I travel, to see more than expected! I haven’t been to the Capitoline Museum before, but it looks great, especially with the historic She-Wolf statue that represents Rome and the Roman Empire. Glad you had fun!

    1. Some people prioritize their trips around food and relaxing, but there’s just so much to see! Jon’s coworkers went to Rome but they just went around on scooters and saw the outside of things, but never went in. I couldn’t believe it!

    1. Yeah I read that a lot of the Romans were against the building for that reason, but I guess they didn’t have much say. It is a nice museum, a lot to see but not overwhelming.

  7. I had the opportunity to visit the Victor Emmanuel Monument, which was free at the time, and I recommend it at the end of the day, as the sunset from the terrace makes for beautiful views. The interior is mainly made up of ceremonial and theatrical large halls and staircases.

  8. We architecture students referred to the Victor Emmanuel Monument as the “Wedding Cake”. Big base, smaller top, white, and rectangular. Really stood out relative to the other monuments in Rome.

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