Italy TravelNero’s House – Domus Aurea – Reopens in Rome

Nero’s House – Domus Aurea – Reopens in Rome
Published on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 by

nero-houseEmperor Nero’s opulent palace in Rome, built in 64 AD and closed since 2005, is open to the public once again—this time, though, only on weekends to allow restoration work to continue. Because most of the structure is still damaged, just 8,530 square feet of the palace’s 170,000 square feet has reopened, partially thanks to financial aid by crowdfunding and Sky Italia.

In its heyday, the Domus Aurea (Golden House) matched Nero’s reputation for extravagance and included a rotating banquet hall, a manmade lake, frescoes, vineyards and orchards, and walls covered in gold leaf, ivory, and semiprecious stones. Despite having 300 rooms and extensive gardens, the palace had no bedrooms, as it was intended only to host parties. It was rediscovered in the 15th century, and famous visitors such as Michelangelo and Raphael left their names in graffiti on its walls. Though other Roman emperors built over the palace after Nero’s demise, it sits on top of Oppian Hill (one of the Seven Hills of Rome) overlooking the Colosseum.

A park currently lies on top of the buried ancient landmark, and weight from water and tree roots have taken a toll on the palace. Earlier this year, the city of Rome announced plans to re-landscape the park with smaller plants and a thinner layer of soil, which would not harm the palace.

Before the palace first opened to the public in 1999, it underwent extensive renovations and was only open by invitation. This round of restoration—including repairing caved-in ceilings, frescoes compromised by humidity, and other extensive damage—is expected to continue for four more years, and the project still needs to raise 31 million euros; until then, visitors can explore the palace while wearing protective helmets on guided tours. The 75-minute tours, held every 15 minutes from 9:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, cost 12€; visitors must book ahead by calling +39 0639967700 or visiting (but if you can’t make it to the palace, follow the restoration progress here).

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