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The Capitol was the most politically important of Rome's seven hills. The site of the temple of the Capitoline Jupiter, it was a symbolic centre of the Roman World, a seat of the highest spiritual and political authority. It still remains roughly in the geographical centre of Rome, and the modern city council meets in one of the Capitol's Renaissance palazzos.
The current layout of the central Piazza di Campidoglio is of Michelangelo's design, a supreme example of urban-planning perfection. Unfortunately, the layout of the area is somehow blotted out by the gigantic monument to Vittorio Emanuelle, but the Piazza di Campidoglio itself remains a wonder of balance, grace and good taste.
The Piazza is best reached by Michelangelo's grand, ramp-like staircase, the Cordonata, guarded by lions and restored classical statues of Castor and Pollux.
The piazza itself is trapeze-shaped, covered with geometric paving that both links the buildings together and guides the eye of the visitor. In the middle stands a replica of an equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, the wisest of the Emperors. The square is flanked by three palazzos: Nuovo, Conservatorio and Senatorio, whose facades were also designed by Michelangelo. The horizontal lines of their balustrades and windows crate a graceful rhythms to the buildings: the whole creation is a monument to the beauty of reason, restrained luxury and the best of the classical civilisation.