History and description
Although it was Michelangelo who designed the Cordonata, the actual work was done by Giacomo della Porta.
At the foot of the Cordonata there are two Egyptian lions, made of granite. These used to flank the entrance of the Santo Stefano del Cacco Church, but their original spot was at the Temple of Isis.
Cola di Rienzo
The bronze statue of Cola di Rienzo is by Masini, who placed it on antique fragments, to show that the Last Roman Tribune wanted to reestablish the Republic on the ruins of the Empire. The statue was placed here in 1887, close to the spot where the man had been executed. The pedestal is the work of Francesco Azzurri.
Cola di Rienzo was the son of an innkeeper who, after reading the classics, vowed to restore the glory and greatness of the Roman Empire.
His statue was erected in 1887, close to where he had been executed.
Castor and Pollux
The statues at the top of the staircase depict the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, with their horses. They were proabbly found in the 16th century, at the Tempio dei Castori in the Circo Flaminio.
Gregory XIII had them restored and placed them here in 1583, after they had been found near the Ghetto.
Sixtus V added the Trophies of Marius and the statues of Constantine and his son Constantine Caesar.
The wolf and the eagle cages
In 1872, a cage with a live wolf was placed in the little garden to the left of the Cordonata. In the 1920s Mussolini added another cage, with a an eagle inside it. Both animals are considered symbols of ancient Rome. In 1935, the cages were placed further away and to the right of the steps. After the last wolf had been moved to the zoo (1971) and the eagle had died (1972), the cages stayed where they were. And, for some reason, are still there.