Piazza del Campidoglio was commissioned by Pope Paul III on the occasion of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s visit, and Michelangelo laid out the square to face St. Peter’s Basilica, turning its back on the Roman Forum. He also designed new facades for Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Senatorio and built Palazzo Nuovo to complement the older palaces. Today, Palazzo Senatorio houses city hall, and the other two palaces house the Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini), with vast collections of classical sculpture, Renaissance paintings, and archaeological artifacts. Michelangelo also designed the square’s sweeping Cordonata Steps, unique geometric paving, and setting for the central equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.
Piazza del Campidoglio is a stop on many guided walking, bike, and Segway tours of Rome’s highlights. Guided city tours generally visit other top attractions such as the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and may include skip-the-line tickets to the Colosseum and Vatican.