Discover Nero's palace!

Domus Aurea in Rome - Nero's palace

Sebastian Erkens
Sebastian Erkens

The Domus Aurea was once the largest palace in Rome. Where the Domus Transitoria previously stood, Emperor Nero had the city’s most magnificent palace, built in 64 AD.

Most of its more than 150 rooms and corridors were almost completely painted. Some of the ceilings were even made of ivory. The walls, which had no paintings whatsoever, were instead clad in marble slabs or even gilded.

Most of the works of art are by the Roman painter Fabullus, who was known for the fantasy style of his wall frescoes.

His works include mythological scenes, landscapes, and still lifes. Today, around 30,000 m² of Nero’s frescoes still exist. Around 1200 of them have been restored. In some places, you can still see the signatures of famous Renaissance artists!

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Domus Aurea - Nero's dining room

Other parts of the palace were decorated with gems and shells. The octagonal dining hall is the most famous. Its dome (where only a hole can be seen today) was the first in palace architecture and also the first to have an octagonal floor plan.

Visitor Information:

Address:
Via della Domus Aurea, 1, 00184 Roma

Transportation:
Subway station: Colosseo, line B.

Opening hours:
Guided tours only on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Nearby:
Colosseum (0,5 km)
Roman Forum (0,6 km)
Circus Maximus (1,6 km)

Recommended exploration time:
90 minutes

Information:
The excavations of the Domus Aurea can only be visited on a guided tour.

Domus Aurea Tickets & Guided Tours:

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How to explore Nero's Golden House:

With all its art history and numerous architectural highlights, the Domus Aurea is one of the best underground attractions in Rome today.

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Entrance to the Domus Aurea on the Via della Domus Aurea
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Explore the Domus Aurea on a guided tour

After many years of restoration work, parts of Nero’s Golden House can now be visited again. A remnant of the once colossal complex can still be seen on the Oppius hill. Thanks to state-of-the-art VR goggles and headphones, visitors can transport themselves back almost 2000 years to the time of ancient Rome.

You will learn the story behind Nero and gain incredible insights into the beauty of the Domus Aurea, from the palace gardens to Nero’s bathing and dining rooms. The tours are offered in small groups and show you in a refreshingly authentic way what the once-expensive palace of Rome must have looked like.

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The story behind the imperial palace Domus Aurea

According to estimates, Nero’s palace was around 100 hectares, including large parts of the Roman hills Palatine, Esquiline, and Oppius and a massive lake in the valley. Where a gigantic lake adorned the imperial residence almost 2000 years ago, the world-famous Colosseum was built just 8 years later. According to legend, a 35-metre-high bronze statue of the emperor himself stood right here at the entrance to Nero’s palace. Incidentally, the vast amphitheater owes its name to the so-called “Colossus”!

Emperor Nero had the Golden Palace built shortly after the great fire in Rome. This broke out in July 64 AD and completely devastated three of the city’s fourteen districts. According to one myth, Nero himself started the great fire.

Today, the emperor could only use the vacated land, creating an unprecedented palace complex of villas, houses, vineyards, avenues, swimming pools, etc.

As quickly as the construction of the palace progressed, its era ended just as quickly. Just four years after its completion, Nero, who was considered by many to be a megalomaniac, committed suicide at the age of just 30.

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Many believed that the emperor, hated by the people, should be forgotten as quickly as possible. As a result, the Domus Aurea was buried by many new buildings in the following years. Another part of the complex was destroyed by fire. In 109 AD, the Baths of Trajan, built on the same site, were finally inaugurated. Similar to the Baths of Caracalla, they were among Rome’s largest bathing complexes.

Only in the Renaissance was the Domus Aurea rediscovered and studied by great artists such as Rafael and Michelangelo. Inspired by the “grotesque paintings”, a new genre of wall decoration was born.

It took until the 19th century for part of Nero’s rooms to be cleared of stones, gravel, and earth and for the excavations of today’s monument to really get underway.

Only recently have visitors have been allowed to revisit the ancient temple complex and gain an impression of the fascinating rooms. The Italian government, which invested around 13 million euros in the excavations, has played a large part in this.

However, the restoration work is still ongoing! We can, therefore, look forward to seeing what else the Domus Aurea has to offer.

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3D reconstruction of the Domus Aurea:

Where is Nero's golden palace located?

Editor: Sebastian Erkens
Hey and welcome to Rome-Tourist! My name is Sebastian and I travel regularly to Rome, Italy.
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