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‘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 (Gregorio Borgia/AP)
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 (Gregorio Borgia/AP) 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 (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

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.

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

Members of the public can now tour it, following decades of structural restoration work to shore the palace up for safety reasons.

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”.

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

Although the domus, or residence, is named after Tiberius, who ruled the empire after the death of Augustus, archaeological studies indicated that the palace’s foundations date from the era of Nero, shortly after the fire of 64D which devastated much of the city.

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.

Italy Domus Tiberiana
Italy Domus Tiberiana 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)

The domus, built on the north-west slope of the hill, is considered to be the first true imperial palace.

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.