Palazzo Altemps

June 3, 2015
By Charles Martens '17

martensc-Palazzo AltempsThough it is now the home of an expansive museum of art as one of the branches of the National Roman Museum, the Palazzo Altemps has a long history of noble occupation. From the time of the ancient Romans, the site provided one of the largest marble warehouses in the ancient city, just 160 meters up the Tiber from the Ponte Elio, one of the two marble ports of Rome. You can see part of the excavations today in one of the museum’s wings. In 1477, Girolamo Riario began construction of what would become the Palazzo Altemps. This was done during a period of great urbanization of the Campus Martius following the papacy’s return from Avignon in the fifteenth century, violence between the Orsini and Colonna family within the area subsided. Furthermore the Riario family had significant influence over the politics of Rome considering that the current Pope, Sixtus IV, was a relative. During this period of Sixtus IV’s papacy, the Riario family built on a massive scale, constructing the Cancelleria and Palazzo Corsini.
Following the initial construction of the palace and Sixtus’ papal authority, Cardinal Francesco Soderini purchased the palace in 1511. During his residency he renovated the palace. However his renovations did not last the rest of the century. Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps, who lends his name to the palace today, purchased the palace in 1568 to house his expansive art collection. Among his art collection include mostly statues in the classical vein. Upon his purchase he commissioned an Extreme Makeover of the palace. Among the renovations included the courtyard, the church of Ancietus, and the loggia as they seem today. While Sittico’s collection is featured in some place in some places, the Boncampagni Ludiovisi and Egyptian collections are far more prominent within the museum, both of which are extremely classical in their aesthetics and history.


Lalupa. Roma, Palazzo Altemps: Cortile Maggiore, photo, March 2, 2007.

"National Roman Museum: The Palazzo Altemps." Soprintendenza Speciale per il Colosseo, il MNR, e l'Area Archaeologica di Roma. Date Accessed June 3, 2015.

"Palazzo Altemps." Tiscali. Date Accessed May 31, 2015.

"Palazzo Altemps." Rome Guide. Date Accessed May 31, 2015.

"Palazzo Altemps: Museo Nazionale Romano." A View on Cities. Date Accessed May 31, 2015.