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The marvelous facade of the Palazzo Senatorio dominates Piazza del Campidoglio, one of the major tourist attractions of the Eternal City. Rising above the Tabularium, the heritage building is made famous by the monumental double stairway that leads to the palace designed my Michelangelo. Originally built between the 13th and 14th centuries, Palazzo Senatorio was where all the important archives, tabulae and official documents of ancient Rome were stored. Many architects have contributed to the design of the structure, notably Martino Longhi the Elder who designed the Bell Tower. From 1870 to present day it has served as Rome's city hall where the City Council convenes.
The Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini) are archeological and art museums located in Piazza Campidoglio at the top of Capitoline Hill. Michelangelo redesigned the buildings making generous use of giant order columns, a novelty at the time. The museums are made up of the Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo dei Conservatori, Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino, and the Palazzo Nuovo, all linked by an underground gallery beneath the piazza. A massive collection of ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian sculptures and artifacts are housed at the museums, in addition to more modern pieces. The 1st Century BCE Greco-Roman sculpture Lo Spinario, in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, is one of the collection's most impressive works.
Just like the Colosseum, the Temple of Saturn is a prominent icon of ancient Rome's prosperity and architectural grandiose. It is not hard to find this landmark, although only a few columns of the temple survive; the ruins of the temple jut out at the base of the touristy Capitoline Hill. The history of this temple dates back to 497 BCE, having been built under the seventh and last king of Rome - Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. It is known that the temple underwent facelifts several times during the Republic era, however remained consecrated to the Saturn God. A definite must-visit for Roman history enthusiasts.
The basement floors of Palazzo Senatorio contain relics of religions of ancient Italic populations, relating in particular to the cult of the god Veiovis. This god had a preference for unhealthy, marshy locations, and took the form of Jupiter of the underworld. However, in the version created for this temple he takes the form of a beautiful young man without any of the original unpleasant characteristics. The temple, according to an inscription, was erected in 78 BCE and was discovered almost intact in the 1940s. The architecture is reminiscent of the Greek style: this beautiful god is guarding the altar of his own temple.
Reorganization of Piazza del Campidoglio began in 1539 as part of a plan undertaken by Pope Paul III. It was the first square created as part of a plan conceived by Michelangelo in which a space was created between Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo dei Conservatori bounded by a new symmetrical building. The square is in the shape of a trapezoid with the Palazzo Senatorio on the longer side (the seat of the city council's administrative offices) and the Capitoline Museums on either side. Michelangelo also designed the monumental flight of steps that leads to the square on either side of which were the Dioscuri designed by Giacomo della Porta. The pavement in the center designed by Michaelangelo on which stands the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, survived the Middle Ages as it was thought, that it represented the Emperor Constantine, the protector of the Christian religion.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus must have been a handsome looking Prince and a commanding king for whom soldiers loved to fight. You can find his bust in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. There is also an equestrian statue on the Capitoline Hill. Both these statues define the Roman features with the typical curly hair and beard and highlight his perfect masculine beauty. But the philosophical expression on his face is hard to miss. Known as 'the wise', Marcus Aurelius was the Roman Emperor from 161 CE to 180 CE. His life was full of turbulent events, with wars in Asia, that threatened the Roman Empire.
On the far western end of the Roman Forum, the tall structure made of gleaming marble is the Arch of Septimius Severus or common among locals as Arco di Settimio Severo. Established in 203CE,, this arch was constructed as a tribute to Emperor Septimius Severus and his children's conquest over the Parthians. Standing at a height of 20.88 meters (68.6 feet), this is structure has beautiful carvings of the victorious battle etched onto its facade. The top of this memorial is embellished with sculpture of the emperor and his children.