‘Power palace’ on Rome’s Palatine Hill reopens to tourists after restoration


An ancient Roman imperial palazzo on top of the Italian capital’s Palatine Hill has reopened to tourists, nearly 50 years after its closure for restoration.

The nearly 2,000-year-old Domus Tiberiana was home to rulers in the ancient city’s Imperial period.

The sprawling palace allows for sweeping views of the Roman Forum below.

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Visitors admire the newly restored Domus Tiberiana on Rome’s Palatine Hill (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

Excavations uncovered artefacts from centuries of Roman life following the decline of the empire.

Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park, which includes the Palatine Hill, in a written description of the restored palazzo, dubbed it “the power palace par excellence”.

On the eve of the reopening, he quoted a first-century Roman poet as saying the sprawling palace seemed “infinite” and that “its grandiosity was just like the grandiosity of the sky”.

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A visitor admires archaeological finds inside the newly restored Domus Tiberiana (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

After the demise of the Roman Empire, the residence suffered centuries of abandonment, until, in the 1500s, the noble Farnese family developed an extensive garden around the ruins.

Thanks to the palazzo’s reopening to the public, visitors today can get a better idea of the path that ancient emperors and their courts enjoyed en route to the domus.

The English word “palatial” is inspired by the sumptuous imperial residence on top of the Palatine, one of ancient Rome’s seven hills.

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The Domus Tiberiana, built on the north-west slope of Rome’s Palatine Hill, is considered to be the first true imperial palace (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

As well as 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.

Excavation and restoration work, also carried out during the coronavirus pandemic when for months tourism was at a minimum, helped archaeologists piece together what Mr Russo called centuries of history in a place that “somehow went forgotten”.

On display for those visiting the reopened domus is a selection of hundreds of artefacts that were found, including objects in metal and glass.

Statues, other decorations and ancient coins were also dug up.


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