After 50 Years, a Roman 'Power Palace' Reopens

2K-year-old Domus Tiberiana, overlooking the Forum, has been undergoing restoration in Italy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 22, 2023 12:00 PM CDT
After 50 Years, a Roman 'Power Palace' Reopens
A window overlooks a fresco of flowers inside a lavatory of the newly restored Domus Tiberiana during the press preview on Palatine Hill in Rome on Wednesday. The Domus Tiberiana reopened Thursday.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

An ancient Roman imperial palazzo atop the city's Palatine Hill was reopened to tourists on Thursday, almost 50 years after its closure for restoration. The nearly 2,000-year-old Domus Tiberiana, a sprawling palace that was home to rulers in the ancient city's imperial period, allows for sweeping views of the Roman Forum below. The public is now able to tour it, following decades of structural restoration work to shore the palace up for safety reasons, per the AP. Excavations uncovered artifacts from centuries of Roman life following the decline of the empire.

The director of the Colosseum Archeological Park, which includes the Palatine Hill, in a written description of the restored palazzo, dubbed it "the power palace par excellence." Although the domus, or residence, is named after Tiberius, who ruled the empire after the death of Augustus, archaeological studies indicate that the palace's foundations date from the era of Nero, shortly after the fire of AD64 that devastated much of the city. After the demise of the Roman Empire, the residence suffered centuries of abandonment, until the 1500s, when the Farnese noble family developed an extensive garden around the ruins.

Thanks to the palazzo's reopening to the public, visitors now 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 sumptuous imperial residence atop the Palatine, one of ancient Rome's seven hills. The domus, built on the northwest slope of the hill, is considered to be the first true imperial palace. Besides the emperor's residence, the complex included gardens, places of worship, quarters for the Praetorian Guard that protected the ruler, and a service district for workers that overlooked the Roman Forum.

(More ancient Rome stories.)

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