Day 66 Domus Aurea – the golden house

The Roman historian Tacitus records in his Annals (Tac. ann. 15, 38–41) that Emperor Nero had a complex of villas erected inside the city of Rome covering approx. 80 ha (54–68 AD), and called it the Domus Aurea, or “golden house”. It’s one of the best known and most fascinating monuments of ancient Rome. The complex, which was not finished by the time of Nero’s death (9–11 June 68 AD), was dismantled and built over by succeeding emperors. A fire damaged the residence building in 104 AD, leading to demolition of the upper storey. The lower storey was filled in with earth, with the result that it is exceptionally well preserved today.

The original area of the Domus Aurea is marked in red (Photo: DAI Rom)

The dramatic deterioration in its state of preservation, long known to have severe defects, led to the Domus Aurea being closed in 2006. Since 2008 the DAI Rome has been working intensively inside the Domus Area in response to an invitation from the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma (the state antiquities authority in Rome) and the Università La Sapienza, Rome. Since 2014 the Domus Aurea has been open to visitors again at weekends.

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