The most central of the famous 7 hills of Rome, the Palatine Hill is likely where it all began for Rome. The hill became the prime real estate location and over time, illustrious villas and gardens, built for Rome’s powerful emperors, occupied every square inch of level ground. The remains of the imperial palaces on the Palatine are unrivalled in extent and complexity, as we discover on this tour how this small low-lying hill emerged at the centre of the ancient Mediterranean world and imagine how this glorious assembly of architecture would have once looked.
Avoid the Crowds
Allows you to explore without having to be shoulder-to-shoulder in a large tour group
Written by a Cambridge-based archaeologist, whose postgraduate (MRes) research has been devoted to Early Iron Age architecture
Easy-to-follow GPS directions to get you from one point to the next on your tour
The Domus Augustana, Domus Flavia, and Temple of Apollo
Remote Tour Included
As with all our tours, a remote tour is included that can be enjoyed from home
Rome: Palatine Hill
- Entrance to the Palatine at the Acqua Claudia - We begin our tour at the Via di San Gregorio, which is now the main entrance to the Palatine area. There wouldn’t have been an entrance to the palaces on this side of the hill in antiquity but we can appreciate from here the marvellous aqueduct built by Nero and map out a brief sketch of the Palatine Hill’s development.
- The “Stadium” of Domitian’s Palace - Called a ‘stadium’, this rectangular space was actually once a magnificent garden built by the emperor Domitian, where he could parade his horses. Large enough on its own to serve the needs of one individual, the remains of the ‘stadium’ are just one part of the gigantic complex Domitian built during the 1st century AD.
- The Domus Augustana - We now come to the second of three parts of Domitian’s luxurious palace, the ‘House of the Augustus’ or Domus Augustana. Not the house the emperor Augustus lived in, rather the private or domestic range of Domitian’s palace, subsequently named after the first emperor for reasons that will be explained.
- Domus Flavia - Named after the Flavian dynasty started by Vespasian, his youngest son and eventual emperor Domitian, built this wing as the showpiece element of his ever-expanding palace on the Palatine hill. Richly decorated halls and a forest of columns, the Domus Flavia would have been a sight to behold for any guest of the emperor.
- Cenatio Iovis & Neronian Nymphaeum -The Emperor Nero is most famous for having 'fiddled while Rome burned' as a fire destroyed much of the city. Luckily, the fabulous floor and ceiling paintings from his Nymphaeum survived the fire and until the present day.
- The Aula Isiaca and the House of Livia - At this stop we’ll get to grips with the political upheaval in the first century BC as Rome went from a republic and became an empire under Augustus.
- House of Augustus and Temple of Apollo - We’ll discuss what remains of the living quarters of the emperor Augustus, who throughout his lifetime extended his ancestral home into a modest yet all encompassing complex of both public and private rooms, not forgetting a brand new temple dedicated to the god Apollo.
- The Huts of Romulus - The enduring image of the two young boys suckling the wolf remains the symbol of Rome to this day. The legend of Romulus and Remus, and the monuments associated with them, once shrouded in mystery has thanks to archaeology become clearer. Almost 3000 years old, these remarkable huts are the remains of the earliest identifiable settlement on the Palatine.
- Domus Tiberiana - As the first emperor, Augustus established a precedent of living on the Palatine, one that was taken up by his stepson and successor Tiberius. This too was an expansive set of houses but its most alluring remain is the corridor known as the cryptoporticus, attributed to the time of the emperor Nero.
- The Gardens of Farnese - The remaining section of the Farnese gardens includes the large terrace that projects towards the forum, one of the most iconic views in the world, and a very appropriate place for us to end our tour