Emperor Nero in Rome: restored house opens
The restoration work site of Nero’s house in Rome, the Domus Aurea, now open to the public. You can visit upon appointment for a limited period of time.
After the fire of 64 a.D., which destroyed the greater part of the center of Rome, Emperor Nero had a new residence built with walls covered by rare varieties of marble and vaults decorated with gold and precious stones. The house was so glittering so as to earn the name of Domus Aurea (Golden House).
Built of brick and concrete, the extensive gold leaf that gave the villa its name was not the only extravagant element of its decor: stuccoed ceilings were faced with semi-precious stones and ivory veneers, while the walls were frescoed, coordinating the decoration into different themes in each major group of rooms.
The Golden House was designed as a place of entertainment: there were 300 rooms but no sleeping quarter.
No kitchens or latrines have been discovered.
The enormous complex included vast vineyards, pastures and woods, an artificial lake, treasures looted from the Orient.
It was embellished by precious ornaments, such as a gigantic statue of the Emperor in the robes of the Sun God. At the death of Nero, his successors tried to bury every trace of the Palace.
The luxurious halls were spoiled of the marbles and of of the sculptures and were filled with earth up to the the vaults; upon them the large Baths of Titus and Baths of Trajan were built and in the underlying valley the Colosseum was erected.
The lavish fresco and stucco decorations of the Domus Aureas remained hidden until the Renaissance when some artists passionate about antiquities, including Raphael, entered into what they thought were caves and began to copy the ornamental motifs of the vaults; thus the decorations were called grotesques (from the Italian word grottesca, grotta being the Italian for cave).
Recently the Domus Aurea work site was reopened to the public after many years of being closed because of collapsed structures.
The restoration is still in progress, paid for – in part – by the Italian company Sky Arte HD, which is also trying to raise more money for the works through crowdfunding. They need about 31 million Euro to restore the garden above the structure, which has been damaged by water infiltration.
In my opinion, visiting the Domus Aurea alone is worth a trip to Rome.