The Capitoline Square is on the top of the Capitoline Hill. Although Rome was founded on the Palatine Hill, the Capitoline Hill eventually gained in importance and became the main of seven hills. Today on the Capitoline Square you can see a beautiful ensemble of three palaces, and in the time of the ancient Rome there were the buildings of the Senate and the state archive (tabularium) in the square.
In the Middle Ages all the buildings of the Capitoline Square fell into a state of complete disrepair. According to archive records, when Charles V, the ruler of both the Spanish Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, in 1536, Pope Paul III was ashamed of the dilapidated center of Rome and especially the Capitoline Hill. After that the Pope commissioned Michelangelo, court architect and sculptor, with the task to design a new appearance of the Capitoline Square and build new palaces on the square.
The Palace of the Conservatives (Palazzo dei Conservatori) is in the center of the square. The building dates back to 15 century but Michelangelo extensively rebuilt and renovated it. The back of the palace is towering over the Roman Forum.
The replica of the Capitoline she-wolf, symbol of Rome, is to the left of the palace. You can see the original statue in one of the rooms of the Capitoline Museums. It was made by Etruscan sculptors in 5 century B.C.
The New Palace (Palazzo Nuovo) and the main building of the Capitoline Museums are at the sides of the Palace of the Conservatives. The Capitoline Museums were founded by Pope Sixtus IV in 1471. Now its collections are on display in all three palaces on the Capitoline Square. The equestrian statue of the emperor Mark Aurelius (2 century B.C.) is in the center of the square.
Michelangelo designed and built the Cordonata, wide marble stair leading to the top of the hill. The statues of legendary twin brothers Castor and Pollux, together known as the Dioscuri, are at the end of the stair. According to legend, they were sons of Leda and Zeus. These statues were found during the excavations of Pompeii in 1583.