Photographs of the Domus Aurea




The modern entrance to the Domus Aurea. It is located on the Oppian Hill, just NE of the Colosseum.


Imagine President George W. Bush, in the months after the attacks of September 11, raising taxes to build himself an opulent palace on Ground Zero in Manhattan. As outrageous as that sounds, it is essentially what Nero did from 64-68 AD, constructing the Domus Aurea after a great fire had devastated the city. Needless to say, the emperors who followed Nero were eager to erase the Domus Aurea from public consciousness. The Flavians returned much of the land to the people of Rome, and Trajan went so far as to bury the Domus Aurea, building his baths on top of the site. Thus, a visit to the Domus Aurea today involves walking down into chilly, dark, underground tunnels such as this one.



A statue of the muse Terpsichore, the only statue excavated on site.




The famous octagonal dining room of the Domus Aurea. According to Suetonius, "its roof revolved, day and night, in time with the sky." Scholars have long debated whether this planetarium-like aspect of the room was a marvel of Roman engineering or simply a figment of Suetonius' often whimsical imagination.





The oculus at the top of the domed roof of the octagonal dining room.