Palazzo Altemps , a few steps from Piazza Navona , was born as a Renaissance residence of the homonymous cardinal.
The palace, rich in frescoes and precious decorations , now houses the collections of ancient statuary of the great Roman noble families, also including Egyptian remains.
Among other treasures, Palazzo Altemps also houses the Boncompagni Ludovisi collection , with Magna Graecia masterpieces such as the Ludovisi Throne, Hellenistic such as the suicidal Galata group and imperial ones such as the sarcophagus with battle scenes known as Grande Ludovisi. The exhibition of part of Evan Gorga's archeology collection has been visible to the public since 2013.
The museum of Palazzo Altemps thus opened to the theme of early twentieth century collecting that draws on the antiques market, and on the findings of the great excavations of that era, placing a comparison with that of the great Renaissance families of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The seat of the National Roman Museum of Palazzo Altemps illustrates in an exemplary way the emergence of collecting in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The passion for beautiful things, but also the desire to exhibit the economic strength and political power of the family, led Roman families to collect masterpieces. The aristocracy of the city, undoubtedly favored by the archaeological wealth of Rome, rivals the glories of collecting. This is demonstrated by the numerous works preserved in the museum and coming from the collections of sculptures of the Altemps, Boncompagni Ludovisi, Mattei families, and the marble reliefs of Brancaccio and del Drago.
The great political and religious importance of the Altemps family is undoubtedly evident in the church of Clemenza and Sant'Aniceto which is known not only for the extraordinary wealth of gilded stuccos, colored marbles, paintings and inlays of mother of pearl, but also because it is the the only church inside a private residence to house the relics of a saint, those of Aniceto, one of the first popes.
To honor the memory of the saint, Pomarancio (Antonio Circignani) was called, author of the frescoes with the story of the martyrdom of Aniceto. It is here that Gabriele D'Annunzio married Maria Hardouin di Gallese in 1883, a family that last inherited Palazzo Altemps before it became the property of the Holy See in 1887.