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The Octagonal Court used to be known as the Cortile delle Statue. It was home to the first nucleus of antique classical statues in the pontifical collections when Pope Julius II della Rovere (1503-1513) displayed an extraordinary collection of antique sculpture here, aimed at bringing once again to life the Rome of the Caesars in the Rome of the Popes. During the late 1700s, when two Popes, Clement XIV and Pius VI, decided to transform the collection in a purpose-built museum, the Court was included in the new museum project and became its fulcrum. And although there have been many changes which have been made over the centuries, some of the sculptures on display, such as the Laocoön and the Belvedere Apollo, are in the places they have held since the early 1500s.

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