Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A neglected imperial palace comes back to life as a museum… and epitomizes Rome's grandeur

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — After 50 years of neglect, Rome's “lost” imperial palace, Domus Tiberiana, has reopened as an open-air museum.

Until recently, the Domus Tiberiana, not far from the famous Colosseum, collapsed and prevented destruction. Built in the first century AD and favored by Nero, it is hoped to regain its place as one of the city's main tourist attractions.

The ancient palace sits on the city's oldest hill, the Palatine Hill, overlooking Rome, where imperial dynasties ruled for centuries. But over the years, the condition of the site deteriorated, and in the 1970s, Domus Tiberiana was closed due to structural failure of some of the ruins. The closure was described by many Romans as a “black hole” in the ancient heart of the capital.

Now, after six years of renovation, the palace has reopened its doors as a “scattered museum”, featuring finds and paintings scattered across the site to give visitors an accurate account of the palace's ancient grandeur.

This palace complex was inhabited for thousands of years and was favored by emperors and nobles.Credit: Parco Archeologico Colosseo

It was good. Domus Tiberiana was Rome's first imperial palace, built by Emperor Tiberius, who joined the noble palaces already built on the hill. The palace is spread over an area of ​​four hectares and includes residences along with large gardens, places of worship and quarters for the emperor's royal guards.

As the seat of power and politics in Rome, the Domus Tiberiana occupied a privileged position, superior to the Palatine and Roman Forums, affording its occupants a “balcony view of the city”. Over time, Tomas was decorated and expanded by other emperors, including Nero, who was crowned on its steps in AD 54 at the age of just 16.

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Alfonsina Russo, director of the Archaeological Park at the Colosseum (where Domus Tiberiana's palace is located) and chief archaeologist, told CNN that the ancient ruins, well-preserved, were discovered during the project.

Artifacts, glazed plaster, paintings, vases, pottery, looms, clay and statues of deities associated with the cults of Isis, Dionysus and Mithras offer visitors a journey through time, Rousseau said.

During the renovation work of the Domus Tiberiana Palace, valuable finds were found that were exhibited at the site.Credit: Parco Archeologico Colosseo

“They make this place, once home to aristocratic families and then Roman emperors, feel alive again,” he continued.

“There are seven exhibition halls filled with extraordinary finds, dating back to the palace's original construction, when the nobility lived in the palaces before it was annexed by Tiberius at Tomas,” he explained.

Rousseau noted that among the newly discovered paintings are some ancient paintings of lemons (considered an exotic fruit in ancient Rome because they came from the Far East) and depictions of a gladiator, proving that gladiatorial games of the time were appreciated by the wealthy. families.

The Imperial Palace remained in use until the 7th century, when it became the papal residence of John VII. In the mid-16th century, the aristocratic Farnese family, powerful local landowners, built the lavish Orte Farneseni gardens on the site, decorating them with ornaments and sculptures of nymphs, satyrs and animals.

“This monument speaks of history,” Rousseau added. “Tomas Tiberiana has regained its former glory, but we still have work to do.”

In fact, serious efforts have been made to blend the old with the new. The red-brown domed arches to welcome visitors have been carefully reconstructed using the same materials used by the ancient Romans in the past.

Some elements of the Domus Tiberiana complex have been painstakingly recreated by archaeologists.Credit: Parco Archeologico Colosseo

“What makes the renovated Tomas Palace unique is its architectural style,” Rousseau pointed out. “We were able to use indigenous materials to enhance and strengthen the 15-meter (50-foot) hand-crafted front arches on the side of the Old Palace Canal. They certainly attracted public attention,” he explained.

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Since reopening at the end of September, the Domus Tiberiana has attracted some 400,000 visitors, a “tremendous success,” Rousseau said, adding that he believes this incarnation of the Domus Tiberiana offers visitors the most “exciting” visit in generations.

Giorgio Franchitti, an archaeologist and researcher of ancient Rome, opined to CNN that Rome has regained a “lost jewel” by reopening the Domus Tiberiana complex. “The Palatine Hill has always been a scene of Rome's power politics. Tiberius probably chose this place to build his palace because it was where his family lived,” he said in an interview.

Pandora Bacchus
Pandora Bacchus
"Coffee evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Hardcore creator. Infuriatingly humble zombie ninja. Writer. Introvert. Music fanatic."

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