Temple of Capitoline Jupiter

3d model and reconstruction

Temple of Capitoline Jupiter

We based our reconstruction of the Temple of Jupiter on the stand measures that is conserved within the Capitoline Museum and on the descriptions of successive authors beginning with Vitruvius and Dyonisius of Halicarnassus. We know from Vitruvius that it was an Araeostyle temple, that is a temple with columns very far apart that prevented the use of a stone entablature. Consequently the entablature was entirely constructed in wood which lead to the temple’s complete destruction in the great fire of 83 BC.

On the Campidoglio, below Palazzo Caffarelli,  are the square masonry tuff foundations of the Temple of Capitoline Jupiter. The large base, discovered in the nineteenth century, has recently been the subject of new excavations and studies, which essentially confirmed the information about this temple from the sources. The base measured about 62 x 53 meters, corresponding to the 200 feet per side mentioned by Dyonisius of Halicarnassus; the division into three of the cellae exactly reproduced the traditional proportions defined by Vitruvius for the Tuscanic temple, whereby the central cella had to be larger than the two side ones (3:4:3 ration). In practice there remains nothing of the temple raised structure; for the reconstruction it was thus necessary to use elements from archaeological remains of the same period: capitals and bases of columns, antefixes, depicted covering slabs and all other artistic clay products typical of the decoration in temple and residential buildings during the archaic age in Latium and southern Etruria. For the decoration of walls and ceilings, inspiration was drawn from the painted graves in Tarquinia, while for the deity statues, they were produced based on groups of statues such as the one in the sacred area of S. Omobono, of the Portonaccio Temple in Veio and of the Pyrgi Temple (S. Severa).

The external setting has been reproduced assuming the existance, in front of the temple, of are and altars of the type commonly found in archaic sanctuaries, while on the background you can see the profile of the Colli Albani with the tip of Monte Cavo, and the sanctuary of Iuppiter Latiaris, closely connected, from both a religious and political viewpoint, to the Temple of Capitoline Jupiter.

The trabeations and roof were probably made entirely of wood, which is the reason why the great fire of 83 BC caused their complete destruction.

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Short history of

Temple of Capitoline Jupiter

According to tradition Tarquinius Priscus ordered work to begin on an complicated project for the consolidation of the top of the southern slope of the Capitol, called the Capitolium, to make it ready to hold the foundation of what should have been the largest temple ever built in the city. The sacred temple was to have been dedicated to Jupiter. A gigantic platform had to be built in order to make the irregular hilltop wide enough for the new building and it has been calculated that some 3,000 cubic meters of earth were necessary to reach the goal. The statue of the god and the decoration of the temple, both realized in painted terracotta, were commissioned to a famous sculptor from Veii, named Vulca, but work on the construction was not completed until many years later under Tarquinius Superbus.

The temple was in the Tuscan style and of sizable dimensions (63 X 53 meters), with columns on all sides and three interior cellae. Each of the three cells housed one of the three divinities – Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva – who formed the so-called capitoline triad. Today almost nothing remains of this massive structure, except for it’s supporting foundations.