The statue of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelia, which is in the Capitoline museums, has been moved to its new home. It has been given a permanent position as the star attraction of the newly created Giardino Romano, a courtyard of the Capitoline museum, which has been made into a glass room designed by the architect Carlo Aymonino.
To reach their new home, Marcus Aurelius and his horse were carefully craned onto a lorry and driven from its place behind glass at the entrance to the Palazzo Nuovo (on the left of the steps up to the Campidoglio) to its new position on the opposite side of the square. The display will be inaugurated on 22 December and will open to the general public on Friday 23 December.
It is the only surviving gilded-bronze statue of a pre-Christian Roman emperor. Following Romes conversion to Christianity, bronze statues were melted down to be used for monuments for churches; the statue of Marcus Aurelius was saved because it was thought to be that of the Emperor Constantine who Christianised Rome.
The statue is known to have been at S. Giovanni, outside the Lateran Palace, in the Middle Ages; it was moved to the centre of the Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill in1538 to complete Michelangelos design for the square as we know it today.
In the 1980s the statue, which had been badly damaged by pollution, was taken away and restored; a copy was made to take its place in the centre of the Capitoline square and the restored original was kept under cover in Palazzo Nuovo.