The Capitoline Museums are the first space dedicated to art in history. Located at the top of Capitoline Hill, they are two buildings that hold a collection of art donated by Pope Sixtus IV.
1. How to visit the Capitoline Museums
Buy your ticket online for the Capitoline Museums
Buy your ticket to the Capitoline Museums at the ticket office
You can buy your tickets at the ticket office, which is on the first floor of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. The price of the general admission ticket is € 15, with a reduced fare of € 13 for people between 6 and 25 years old or over 65. My recommendation, both for this experience and for any other visit to Rome that requires a ticket, is to purchase your tickets online in advance.
The only upside of buying tickets at the ticket office is that you can improvise your plan for the day and just visit the Capitoline Museums if you really feel like it, but in exchange, you will lose a lot of time in the queue and tickets might get sold out for the time slot of your preference.
2. Get your tickets online to the Capitoline Museums
Buying online your tickets to the Capitoline Museums is a very good option to save you the entrance queues and ensure your visit. This museum operates with time slots to distribute tickets to visitors, so I highly recommend you to buy your ticket in advance.
You will be able to explore the rooms full of sculptures, artifacts, and archaeological remains of the Roman Empire at your own pace. Even though you have a fixed entrance time you can stay in the buildings of the Capitoline Museums for as long as you want.
I recommend it if...
You organize your trip on your own or you know the history of Rome well enough to not need a guide during the visit.
3. Guided tour of the Capitoline Museums
Another way to make this visit is with a tour of the Capitoline Museums, in which a professional guide expert in the history of the Roman Empire will take you to see the most unique works of art and objects that this museum has to offer.
Just like buying tickets in advance, this tour is guaranteed to skip the lines and will give you a full narration in English for a duration of 3 hours. After the guided tour, you can wander around the museum at your leisure if you're still craving for more.
Something that sets this tour apart from others is that it is done in a reduced group of a maximum of 13 people, which ensures dedicated attention from the guide and skips you the drag of being part of a huge crowd of tourists.
I recommend it if...
You feel like understanding and contextualizing better what you see, besides being surrounded by a small group, which will make the visit much more special.
4. What to see in the Capitoline Museums
The Capitoline Museums are spread over two buildings that surround the Piazza del Campidoglio, and are considered a single museum where you can see all kinds of things: Roman bronze and marble statues from ancient times, impressive frescoes from medieval and Renaissance times, and also from the museum you will have an astonishing view of the Roman Forum.
Here is the itinerary I made on my visit to the museum, which I carefully prepared to make sure I didn't miss anything essential:
Palazzo dei Conservatori
Start your visit by entering the building in front of the Palazzo Nuovo. In the courtyard, you can admire the fragments of the imposing Colossus of Constantine, a statue that used to occupy a place of prominence in the Roman Forum.
Continue to the Room of the Tapestries, also known as the Throne Room, since in the 18th century it was used as the command room of the pontiff of Rome. You will see impressive tapestries reproducing historical scenes of ancient Rome, and reproductions of works by Rubens.
In the Hall of the She-wolf you can see the bronze statue from around the 5th century representing Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome, suckling the she-wolf. This work of art is the symbol of the city and its hall is surrounded by fasces, lists of magistrates engraved in marble.
In the other rooms of the Palazzo dei Conservatori you can see the Spinario, also known as 'Boy with Thorn', and a 2nd-century bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius riding a horse.
Oh and, on a totally subjective note, something you can't miss in the Capitoline Museums is the Hall of the Geese. The 'Head of Medusa' by Bernini that you can see there has a certain aura that will leave you (figuratively) petrified.
It is a subway gallery in which more than one hundred inscriptions in stone that were used for both public and private life in Rome in antiquity are exposed. You can read informative texts about tombs, laws, trades, and merchant affairs, as well as military orders.
At the end of the gallery, you will reach the Tabularium, from where you will have a memorable view of the Roman Forum.
This is, in my opinion, and according to many people who visit the Capitoline Museums, the one wing of the museum that you definitely cannot miss. Here you will find some of the most beautiful marble statues in the History of Art, and as you enter you will fall under the hypnosis of the statue of Marforio, the god of the river, who will welcome you in a portico flanked by statues set in perfect symmetry with the design of the floor. Quite a fantasy.
You will then ascend the palace and find yourself in the Great Hall, which retains its original gilded wooden ceiling. On a sunny day, the light coming through the windows will give this room a dreamlike appearance, and create an atmosphere that I have not found elsewhere in Rome.
To end your visit, admire the most famous sculpture of the entire museum, the 'Dying Galata', which is a marble copy of the original work, now disappeared.
Alex's Traveller Tip
The Galleria Lapidaria tunnel contains one of the best views in all of Rome: the Roman Forum and its ancient ruins from up close. Whatever you do on your visit to the Capitoline Museums, don't miss this panoramic view.
5. What to consider before booking
- You will receive a confirmation email when you book your tickets or tour, at the email address you have provided. Open it to check that everything is correct, and my advice is to keep it in prominent mailboxes as you will have to show it at the ticket office or to your guide at the meeting point.
- You can return the tickets or cancel the tour at any time, which is an advantage over buying the tickets by other means. However, to receive a 100% refund, you must do so 24 hours before the start of the experience. You will see the instructions in the confirmation email.
6. Tips for visiting the Capitoline Museums
- In addition to what I've been telling you about in my itinerary, the museum has a lot of other things you can see, like coins and jewelry from ancient times that history buffs will love to peruse.
- The Capitoline Museums are open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, except on December 24 and 31 when they close at 2:00 pm. On January 1, May 1, and December 25 the museum is closed all day.
- You can take pictures inside the museum, but no flash or tripod is allowed.
- If you are carrying a large backpack or bag, you will have to leave it at the locker, which costs € 1. If this is your case, remember to have some spare change.
- The closest metro stop to the Capitoline Museums is Colosseo (line B), which is about a 15-minute walk away. Some nearby bus stops are Teatro Marcello-Ara Coeli, Teatro Marcello, Piazza Venezia, Piazza Venezia-Ara Coeli, Fori Imperiali and Plebiscito.
7. Other activities that may be of interest to you
After touring the Capitoline Museums, if you haven't already, I recommend visiting the Roman Forum. There are plenty of guided tours and experiences that take here along with the Colosseum. Read more about the tickets for the Colosseum in Rome and the guided tours of the Colosseum.
And if you are one of those people who tirelessly visit the museums of the cities you visit, you can not miss the Vatican Museums. The vastness of centuries and centuries of art is the treasure of its collection, which houses works by Da Vinci, Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael, and an indispensable visit to Rome such as the Sistine Chapel.