Capitolia, temples to the triad of divinities Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, Iuno Regina and Minerva Augusta, are often considered part of the standard urban ‘kit’ of Roman colonies. Their placement at one end of the forum is sometimes seen as schematizing and replicating in miniature the relationship between the Capitolium at Rome and the Forum Romanum below it. Reliably attested Capitolia are, however, rarer in the provinces than this widespread view assumes and there seems to be no relationship between civic status and the erection of a Capitolium. Indeed, outside Italy there are very few Capitolia other than in the African provinces, where nearly all known examples belong to the second or early third century a.d., mostly in the Antonine period. This regional and chronological clustering demands explanation, and since it comes too late to be associated with the foundation of colonies, and there is no pattern of correlation with upgrades in civic status, we propose that the explanation has to do with the growing power and influence of North African élites, who introduced the phenomenon from Rome. Rather than being a form of temple imposed from the centre on the provinces, Capitolia were adopted by provincial élites on the basis of their relationship with Rome.