National Roman Museum Palazzo Altemps

National Roman Museum Palazzo Altemps

Palazzo Altemps museum is dedicated to ancient Roman and Greek sculpture and it is conveniently located really close to Piazza Navona. It exhibits mostly statues from different periods, some of which are so famous that you might even remember them from your elementary school textbooks. It is just one of four museums that you can visit with the price of one ticket, it is worth it!

This building is located in the center of the Rainesanse Rome, between Navona Square and the river Tiber, in the northern part of the ancient field of Mars (The God of war). Archeological excavations discovered remains of the ancient Roman structures which date back to the first century AD. During the reign of the first Imperator Augustus in the area around Altemps building was an area occupied by shops which processed stone and made sculptures. The sculptures were later moved to the field of Mars, or were shipped to other local destinations. Many archeological remains were found all around this area, which sustain this claim.
In the 15th century, when the field of Mars went through a new phase of urbanization, the Altemps building was constructed. This building had many owners, from Pope’s relatives, cardinals, Spanish ambassadors to the Austrian cardinal Marco Sitika Altemps who bought it in 1568. He founded the Altemps library which was afterwards moved to Vatican along with the first collection of ancient sculptures. The Cardinal additionally decorated the building, while the library and the priceless collection of ancient sculptures were placed in a wonderful room with frescoes.

Nowadays this building hosts many collections:
Collection Altemps: consists of around 100 sculptures among which there are 4 colossal ones which are located in the yard together with a sarcophagus and two heralds of gods that were a part of the fountains’ decorations.
Collection Boncompagni Ludovisi: consists of many artworks among which the most important ones are Greek masterpieces from the first century BC, the statue of the Greek God Ares (god of war) restored by Bernini, the statue of the Gal committing suicide (Roman copy of the bronze original from the third century BC) and the famous sarcophagus from the 3rd century AD decorated with scenes of war between the Romans and Barbarians.
Collection Brancaccio: the most important pieces from this collection are:  the relief Dioscuri, Greek art piece from the 4th century BC and the sculpture of bull Apis in the rare Egyptian marble from the second century BC.
Collection Drago Albani: four reliefs with the scenes inspired by classical motifs. Three of these reliefs date back to the second century while the forth depicts a funeral banquet (Greek masterpiece from the 4th century BC).
Egyptian collection: on the first floor there are six rooms with sculptures mostly from Egypt, while some of the exhibited sculptures were brought from the field of Mars along with the famous head of the Goddess Artemide with a three-sided crown.
Frescoes Pallavicini Rospigliosi: a collection of eight painted panels. The biggest two, one with a male and another with female figure, come from the area of Titus’ baths on the Opian hill, from the period of the Imperator Severan. The other six, unearthed during the excavation of the building Pallavicini Rospigliosi, date back to 70 -100 AD.

In the building there is even a chapel Beata Vergine della Clemenza e di Sant’Aniceto. This chapel was constructed with the aim of placing the remains of Pope Aniceta found in 1603. In 1618, the artist Ottavio Leoni painted 8 oil panels which represent episodes of pope’s life in a small confession room with a famous ceiling with nacre flowers just under the altar.

 Ticket prices for National Roman museum, Palazzo Altemps
This ticket is valid for 3 days, with it you can visit 4 sites: Palazzo Massimo, Baths of Diocletian, Palazzo Altemps and Balbi crypt.

Regular ticket price is: 7 Euros (€). 
Reduced ticket price is: 3.5Euros (€), (for EU citizens between 18 and 25 and older than 65).
Free entrance: for those younger than 17.
We advise you to check ticket prices before visiting – check the official website of the National Roman Museum- Palazzo Altemps in Rome.

Working hours of the National Roman museum, Palazzo Altemps
From Tuesday to Sunday working hours are: 09:00 – 19:45h.
The museum is closed on: Mondays, January 1st, December 25th.
We advise you to check working hours before visiting – check the official website of the National Roman Museum- Palazzo Altemps in Rome.

Interesting facts

  • The fist owner of the Altemps building was Girolamo Riario, the grandson (considered by some even his son) of Pope Sisto IV. He wanted the building to be completed for his wedding with Katarina Sforza in 1477 but the building was fully finished only in 1480.
  • The son of the Austrian Cardinal Mark Sitik Altemps, highly ranked officer in the Papal Army in Avinon and the first Gallish Duke was accused of adultery and was beheaded in 1586 by pope Sisto V, because he married a woman from Orsini family, the arch-enemy of the Pope.
  • It is assumed that the statue of the Gal committing suicide (the Gal killing his wife and himself) originates from the area of the villa Ludovisi, where were gardens of Sallus (Caesar’s gardens) in the period of the Roman Empire. It is believed that the statue was ordered by Caesar himself in memory of his victory over the Gals.
  • The famous head of the goddess Artemis with a three-sided crown was found in the cement mass underneath the tram rails in Rome.

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