Project Description

The Palatine Hill: From Mud Huts to Mansions

On our way up the Palatine Hill, we’ll hike up an ancient road, over whose stones the winded orator Cicero trod.  We’re heading to the 8th century B.C., when Romulus allegedly founded an insignificant village…  and its inhabitants would quickly make a name for themselves, whether they were stealing brides from their Sabine neighbors, beating up the Etruscans, or slowly establishing their hegemony in the Italian peninsula and then in the Mediterranean at large…

Real-estate laws in ancient Rome were really quite modern: as Rome’s population grew, living on the Palatine (or any hill) was a sign of status.  The Palatine was especially expensive given its proximity to the burgeoning downtown.  On it, the expensive villas of Rome’s aristocrats sprawled and the noveau riche wanted nothing more than to acquire a property.  When Octavian, soon to be known as the first Emperor of Rome, bought property on the Palatine, he set an important trend: one emperor after another would inherit his property and enlarge it, creating a Hill covered with Imperial mansions.  The Emperor Domitian’s Palace is the best excavated and its enormous carcass will redefine your ideas of “large.”

The Emperor Domitian’s palace is actually our focus.  Built over a handful of years and inaugurated shortly before the end of the 1st century A.D., it proves what Imperial Roman work-forces could do… if prompted by an Imperial budget!  Traipsing through the bare bones of a building that would have made Versailles look shabby, we’ll explore a world of comfort and luxury that we do not always associate with ancient life.

Entrance fee to the Palatine € 12.  This ticket automatically includes the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Children access the site free of charge.

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