Palazzo Altemps Rome
The address of the Palazzo Altemps is Piazza Sant’Apollinare 48 – Rome (tel. +39 06684851 – box office +39 066872719). Bus: 70, 81, 87, 130F, 492, 628, N6, N7. Opening hours and entrance fee: See the opening hours of the Museo Nazionale Romano.
History and description
Like many Roman museums, the Palazzo Altemps used to be the home of important noble families and popes (who usually belonged to those same families anyway). It has only been open to the public since 1997.
The Palazzo Altemps has a lot of classical sculpture to admire in particular, including the famous Ludovisi collection of Greek and Roman sculpture. All of this is set against a backdrop of 15th and 16th century frescoes.
The Palazzo Altemps was built in 1477 by the Duke of Imola, Girolamo Riario (a grandson of Pope Sixtus IV). Previously, there were a number of medieval constructions on the site, with small houses, towers and gardens that were probably part of a fortress to protect the Tiber.
The architects were Melozzo da Forlì and Luca Pacioli.
The palazzo was sold to Cardinal Francesco Soderini in 1511. After Soderini’s death (1524) it passed into the hands of Cardinal Innocenzo Cybo. He had a number of renovations carried out by Baldassare Peruzzi, among others.
The next owner was Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps (a son of the German Count Wolfgang Hohenems and the sister of Pope Pius IV, Chiara Medici). He bought the building in 1568 and also had, by Martino Longhi il Vecchio, a number of changes made, including the Belvedere on the Piazza Sant’Apollinare side. (The goat placed on the dome of this is the symbol of the Altemps family.)
Artists who participated in these renovations included Giacomo Della Porta, Flaminio Ponzio, Tommaso Schiratti, Girolamo Rainaldi and Onorio Longhi.
At the beginning of the 17th century, Duke Giovanni Angelo Altemps had the Sant’Aniceto Chapel, the Teatro Goldoni and the library built. The Cappella di Sant’Aniceto held the relics of the martyr and Pope Aniceto, which had been taken from the Catacombs of San Callisto in 1603. This made Sant’Aniceto the only pope to be buried in a private residence. The chapel is decorated by works by Pomarancio and Ottavio Leoni, among others.
In 1887 the Palazzo Altemps became the property of the Holy See and seat of the Pontificio Collegio Spagnolo.
In 1982 the Italian State took it over to make it the seat of the Museo Nazionale Romano after a years-long restoration. A number of collections (Altemps, Ludovisi, Mattei and Del Drago Albani) were merged for this purpose.