Capitoline Wolf Statue – Tønsberg, Norway - Atlas Obscura

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Capitoline Wolf Statue

A statue that would be at home in Rome can instead be found in the heart of Norway's oldest city.  


This unassuming statue depicts a she-wolf nursing two babies—a sight that may be familiar to anyone who has been to Rome. That’s because the statue depicts the famous story of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome who were cared for by a wolf after being abandoned by the Tiber River. It’s a scene that is common in Rome and can be found on murals, statues, tourist shops, and football clubs. So what is it doing in this small city in Norway?

The story goes that the mayor of Tønsberg was traveling and found himself in Rome, where he saw the statue and liked it so much he decided to bring one back to his hometown.

The original Capitoline Wolf, or Lupa Capitolina in Italian, was long thought to be an Etruscan work of the fifth century B.C., with the twins added much later. More recent analysis of the statue has shown that it was likely cast as a single piece, and may have been created as recently as the Middle Ages. The image of the Capitoline Wolf was favored by Benito Mussolini, a dictator who cast himself as the founder of a “New Rome” and gifted a number of replicas of the statue that are still on display around the world.

In Tønsberg, the statue is mostly famous within the city for when one evening the twin babies were stolen from their adopted mother. Eventually the brothers were returned, and are secured in place by cement to dissuade potential vandals.

Know Before You Go

The statue can be found in the same park as the city's art museum at the base of the hill.

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June 7, 2021

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