The equestrian statue depicting Marcus Aurelius in the center of the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome is not the original. That, in fact, is on display in the Capitoline Museums.
Statue of Marcus Aurelius Rome
Address: Piazza del Campidoglio – Rome. The statue can seen at any moment of the day.
History and description
The statue of Marcus Aurelius is located in the center of the Piazza del Campidoglio. It faces the Cordonata, and thus indirectly the Vatican City. This is no coincidence since it was the Pope who had ordered Michelangelo’s new design for the square.
Originally, the statue was in the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, where the obelisk is now located. In fact, this is where the villa of Domizia Lucilla, the mother of Marcus Aurelius, used to be. It was placed inside a temple dedicated to the Vestal Virgins.
Initially, the statue was thought to depict Emperor Constantine, which was the reason it remained at the site for centuries. It was eventually Michelangelo who had it moved to the square he completely redesigned.
The pedestal was taken from the Temple of the Castori (or Dioscuri) in the Roman Forum and was modified by Michelangelo himself.
The horse on which the emperor sits has one leg raised. Originally, this leg rested on the head of a defeated barbarian.
The statue used to be completely gilded. According to a prophecy, the “owl” (civetta, as the tuft of hair between the horse’s ears is called) will begin to sing when the gold is fully recovered, heralding the Last Judgment.