An almost 2000-year-old imperial palazzo in Rome has been re-opened to tourists after a 50-year closure.
Most visitors to Rome will not have been able to visit the Domus Tiberiana, an extensive ruined palace sitting above the Roman Forum on the city’s Palatine Hill as it has been undergoing decades of structural work.
Now though, the ancient seat of power is open again to the public and hundreds of Roman items uncovered during excavations have been put on display. Artefacts made of metal and glass, as well as statues and coins, are among the treasures.
The Domus Tiberiana is named for Tiberius, who was emperor from AD14 to AD37 and is thought to have had a palace in the vicinity but archaeologists have found some of its foundations date from about 30 years later than Tiberius’s time, in Nero’s era.
A great fire destroyed much of the city in AD64 and the palace was built after that, and rebuilt again after another fire in AD80. It fell into ruins and was partly made into botanical gardens in the 16th century, so tracing its history has been complex.
Described by a first-century Roman poet as “infinite” with grandiosity “just like the grandiosity of the sky,” the palace is styled around an arcaded interior porch and extends over a huge area. With rooms that appear to have been occupied by elite guards and located on the side of Palatine Hill that was popular with the aristocracy, the Domus would certainly have been home to the city’s powers-that-be, and once was even a papal seat.
The museum director, Alfonsina Russo, has gone as far as calling it “the power palace par excellence.”
New deep dive into the palace
After a 50-year wait, visitors will now be able to follow the path of history deep into the imperial palace, on a “freely accessible” walking route taking in ancient archways, imperial baths and stucco decoration as well as holograms and multimedia rooms.
The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. while the exhibition halls open at 9.30 a.m. with last admission at 5.30 p.m.
Entry costs around 16 euros per person. Discounts and combined entry tickets – running over one or two days to allow time to fully explore the Forum and other monuments of ancient Rome – are available.