An ancient Roman imperial palazzo on the city’s Palatine Hill reopened to tourists on Thursday, 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 with the sprawling palace allowing for sweeping views of the Roman Forum below.
The public is now able to tour it, following decades of structural restoration work in the Italian capital to shore the palace up for safety reasons.
Excavations uncovered artefacts from centuries of Roman life following the decline of the empire.
The director of the Colosseum Archeological Park, which includes the Palatine Hill, dubbed it “the power palace par excellence.”
Alfonsina Russo, 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.”
Although the domus, or residence, is named after Tiberius, who ruled the empire after the death of Augustus, archaeological studies indicated its foundations date from the era of Nero, shortly after the fire of 64 A.D devastated much of the city.
After the fall of the Empire, the building was abandoned for centuries until its ruins became home to a grand garden in the 1500s.
The domus, built on the northwest 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.
Excavation and restoration work helped archeologists piece together what Russo calls centuries of history in a place that “somehow went forgotten.”
Among the hundreds of artefacts on display in the reopened site are statues, decorations and ancient coins found during the restoration work.