Capitoline Hill

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Capitoline Hill (kăp´Ĭtəlīn´) or Capitol, highest of the seven hills of ancient Rome, historic and religious center of the city. The great temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, on its southern summit, was dedicated in 509 BC; it was foremost among the temples and altars of Rome. Destroyed three times by fire, it was last rebuilt by the emperor Domitian. On the northern summit of the Capitol was the citadel (arx). On the side overlooking the Forum stood the Tabularium, where the state archives were kept. Until the 1st cent. AD, state criminals were hurled to their death from the Tarpeian Rock, on the steep south face of the hill. In the Middle Ages the Capitol remained the political center of Rome. The center of municipal government in modern Rome is on the same location. In the 16th cent. Michelangelo designed the present plan. A flight of steps leads to the square on top of the hill; on one side of the square is the Palazzo dei Conservatori, on the other, the Capitoline Museum. Both buildings now house collections of antiquities. In the center of the square is the ancient equestrian bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.