The zone, which is named after the Piazza Campitelli, holds the sites which witnessed the birth of Rome: the municipal castle on the Campidoglio Hill (Arx), formerly the seat of the government, of the civil institutions and of the State Archives (Tabularium), plus some of the more important religious buildings (for example, the Temple of the Capitoline Triade, the Palatine Hill, formerly a residential area which, beginning in the 1st century AD, became the site of the imperial palaces; the valley of the Roman Forum, where religious ceremonies were held, and the City's commercial and political activities were carried out; finally, the zone in the bend of the Tiber (the Velabro), where the Forum Boarium (the animal market) and the Forum Olitorium (the fruit and vegetable market) stood.
The decline of the Empire, the recurrent sacking of the City, and the definitive closing of the pagan temples (Vth century AD) led to the gradual abandonment of the large ancient buildings. In part, these were re-utilized as quarries for marble and construction materials, and in part they were transformed into churches. In the eleventh century, the clashes within the Roman nobility resulted in the transformation of a number of the monuments into turreted fortresses. In 1143 the Campidoglio became the seat of the municipal government of Rome. The Forum was covered over by the waste materials from the building sites and the quarries, becoming a pasture area known as Campus Vaccinus.
In the first half of the XVIth century, Pope Paul III of the Farnese family commissioned Michelangelo to transform the Campidoglio, for centuries the City's civic center, into a monumental setting, and the first digs were begun in the Roman Forum and the Palatine in search of ancient sculptures. It was not until the beginning of the XIXth century, however, that a full fledged campaign of archeological excavation was begun in the area of the Farnese Gardens, leading to the discovery of the ancient remains of the Domus Tiberiana, the House of Livy and the Temple of Apollo.
The last noticeable changes in the quarter were caused by the construction of the monument to Victor Emanuel between 1895 and 1911 and, finally, the creation of the Via dei Fori Imperiale (formerly the Via dell'Impero, 1924-40) and the Via del Teatro di Marcello (formerly the Via del Mare, 1926-30).
In the IX-VIII centuries BC the Palatine and Camidoglio Hills were already inhabited. The valley which divided them was used by the resident populations both as a burial site and as a zone for commercial exchanges. In the Monarchic Age (VIII-VI), the Palatine and the Campidoglio were included in the perimeter of the Servian wall. During the same years, the swampy low-lying zones were reclaimed, and religious and civil buildings were built around a paved plaza which served as the center of municipal life: the Roman Forum. A street, the Via Sacra, descended from the Velia (an elevated area between the Palatine and the Esquiline), running directly to the Campidoglio, and was used for religious processions and triumphal marches. In the I century BC, the Roman Forum [was] no longer sufficient for carrying out all the Capital's civic functions.
The creation of the Forum of Caesar, followed by that of the other Imperial Forums (of Augustus, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian) solved the new needs of the Caput Mundi of the Empire, both in terms of urban planning and celebratory functions.
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