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Rome, Italy - the Palazzo Altemps - visit with the Rome archaeological pass

The Palazzo Altemps is one of the nine Rome museums / archaeological sites that may be visited using the Rome Archaeological pass. Below is some background information.

The turn of the millennium saw the conclusion of major works to tidy up Rome and prepare it for the new century. One of the undoubted successes was the rehabilitation of the Museo Nazionale Romano. Once a drab and dust-blown collection, and with much in storage, the works are now divided between the two marvellous new galleries of Palazzo Altemps and the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme.

‘New’ is relative in Roman terms of course, and the Palazzo Altemps, a restored Renaissance palace which now houses a superb collection of statuary, has an interesting history in itself. In ancient times this was a marble warehouse, sited near the Temple of Apollo. In the Dark Ages it was a military emplacement. But in 1477 a new, grander building was begun by Girolamo Riario. From 1511, the Cardinal of Volterra, Francesco Soderini embellished the building. By 1568 it had passed into the hands of Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps, who used the building to display his collections of antique sculpture and books.

The Cardinal was the archetypal Renaissance figure, rediscovering works of antiquity, which would in turn fuel the creative rebirth (‘renaissance’) of Europe. How appropriate then that the palace now finds itself a Renaissance building housing classical statuary.

It includes works from the Ludovisi collection (sculptures bought by Ludovici Ludovisi, a nephew of Pope Gregory XV). These complement the fragments of the original Altemps collection that haven’t been dispersed around the globe. There are pieces from the Museo Nazionale’s Egyptian collection too.

On the ground floor there is the Courtyard, with frescoes and a marvellous mosaic fountain. Here you’ll see the Altemps coat of arms, a bridge being struck by lightning. The Hall of the Portraits has busts of the Caesars, while the Hall of the Towers exposes the ancient foundations of the palace. The Hall of the Entrance to Palazzo Riario has Aphrodite after bathing, then into the Halls of Athena, with statues of the goddess.

Upstairs you’ll find the Egyptian and Syrian pieces; the South Loggia has a bas-relief from the second century AD, showing the gods sporting on Mount Olympus. The Room of the Painted Views has fine frecoes and tapestries.

Highlights of the collection include a statue of Empreror Antoninus Pius, heads of Pluto and Zeus, and a bust of Julia, daughter of Emperoro Augustus. There are two fine (and near identical) statues of Apollo the Lyrist. There is the sculpture of Orestes and Electra, a first century sculpture by Menelaus.

See the Ludovisi Throne, dating from the fifth century, and the Ludovisi Hera. This is an idealised portrait of Antonia Augusta, mother of Emperor Claudius. Room 26 has the dramatic Galataian Soldier and His Wife Committing Suicide. This was commissioned by Julius Caesar for his Quirinal estate and adjoins the Fireplace Salon … the fireplace itself decorated with caryatids and ibex, the symbol of the Altemps family. Here you’ll see an extraordinary sarcophagus showing a battle between the Romans and the barbarians.

The Private Chapel has a fine ceiling fresco of frolicking cherubs, and ensure you see Cardinal Altemps’ bedchamber, with a marvellous wooden ceiling and a sculpture of Dionysius.

As ever, we advise you to plan both the timing and the execution of your visit. You can’t see everything, so get a good guidebook and tick your ‘must sees’ at the Palazzo Altemps. Don’t go first thing in the morning … avoid the crowds by visiting around lunchtime or in the final hour before closing.

Palazzo Altemps, Piazza Sant' Apollinare, Rome.

Click here for the main information page for the Rome Archaeological Pass.

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Coronavirus in Italy


Please note that in order to use your tickets you MUST be able to provide one of the following documents!

  • - Covid19 Green Pass certification (in digital or paper format) able to attest - together with a valid identity document - that they have received at least one dose of one of the vaccines authorized by the EMA or AIFA (Comirnaty by Pfizer-BioNtech, Vaxzevria by Astrazeneca, Janssen by Johnson & Johnson and Moderna)
  • - or have tested negative to a molecular or rapid swab in the last 48 hours
  • - or have recovered from Covid19 in the previous six months.
  • Exemptions: COVID-19 Green Certification is not required for children excluded by age from the vaccination campaign (under 12 years of age) and those exempt on the basis of appropriate medical certification.
Visitors from Israel, Canada, Japan and the United States

With reference to people coming from the countries of Israel, Canada, Japan and the United States, it should be noted that in relation to vaccination certificates issued by the health authorities of these countries, in accordance with the provisions of EU Recommendation no. 2021/912 of 20 May 2021, they must include at least the following data:

  • - Identifying data of the person;
  • - Data regarding the type of vaccine and date(s) of administration.

Please note that certificates must be accepted if they are in Italian, English, French or Spanish. If the certificate is not issued in bilingual form and not in one of the four languages indicated in the Order of the Minister of Health of 18 June 2021, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation.

This documentation must be presented at the entrance when the body temperature is checked.

PLEASE NOTE: If you do not have a Green Pass and a valid identity document, you will not be able to access and your ticket will not be refunded. For further information www.dgc.gov.it

Due to Coronavirus many venues and events are applying strict entry conditions. These will vary by venue but common examples are:

  • You must wear a compliant CE mask (Ordinanza RT n.48) which covers both mouth and nose.
  • Disposable single-use gloves must be worn at all times.
  • Hands (or gloves) must be cleaned with a disinfectant gel on entry.
  • Your temperature (which will be measured on entry) must not be above 37.5°C.
  • Visitors must maintain a social distance of 1.8m at all times.
  • There may be a maximum visitor limit in place - in some cases this may lead to delays

Any conditions may be changed without notice as Italian regulations are updated.

If you are denied entrance because of failure to meet entry conditions, no refunds will be available.