An ancient Roman imperial palace atop the city’s Palatine Hill reopened to tourists on Thursday, nearly 50 years after it was closed for restoration.
The almost 2,000-year-old Domus Tiberiana was the home of the rulers in the Imperial period of the ancient city. The expansive palace allows for stunning views of the Roman Forum below.
The public is now able to tour it, after decades of structural restoration work to lift the palace off the ground for safety reasons. Excavations have revealed artifacts from centuries of Roman life after the decline of the empire.
The director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park, which includes the Palatine Hill, in a written description of the restored palace, called it “the palace of power par excellence.”
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On the eve of the reopening, the official, Alphonsina Rousseau, quoted a first-century Roman poet as saying that the vast palace seemed “infinite” and that “its majesty was just like the majesty of heaven.”
Although the domus, or residence, was named after Tiberius, who ruled the empire after the death of Augustus, archaeological studies have shown that the foundations of the palace date back to the time of Nero, shortly after the fire of 64 AD .X. which destroyed much of the city.
After the dissolution of the Roman Empire, the residence suffered centuries of abandonment, until, in 1500, the noble Farnese family developed an extensive garden around the ruins.
Thanks to the reopening of the palazzo to the public, visitors today can get a better idea of the path ancient emperors and their courts enjoyed en route to the domus.
The English word “palatial” is inspired by the luxurious imperial residence atop the Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills of ancient Rome.
The building, built on the northwestern slope of the hill, is considered the first true imperial palace. In addition to the emperor’s residence, the complex included gardens, places of worship, quarters for the praetorian guard that protected the ruler, and a service area for workers that overlooked the Roman Forum.
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The excavation and restoration work, also carried out during the coronavirus pandemic, when tourism was at a minimum for months, helped archaeologists piece together what Russo calls centuries of history in a place that was “kind of forgotten.”
On display for those visiting the reopening domus is a selection of hundreds of found objects, including metal and glass objects. Statues, other decorations and ancient coins were also excavated.