Domus Aurea in Rome
The Domus Aurea (Latin, "Golden House") was a large landscaped portico villa, designed to take advantage of artificially created landscapes built in the heart of Ancient Rome by the Emperor Nero after the Great Fire of Rome (64 AD) had cleared away the aristocratic dwellings on the slopes of the Palatine Hill.
Built of brick and concrete in the few years between the fire and Nero's suicide in 68, the extensive gold-leaf that gave the villa its name was not the only extravagant element of its decor: stuccoed ceilings were applied with semi-precious stones and veneers of ivory while the walls were frescoed, coordinating the decoration into different themes in each major group of rooms. Pliny the Elder watched it being built and mentions it in his Naturalis Historia.
Suetonius claims this of Nero and the Domus Aurea:
- When the edifice was finished in this style and he dedicated it, he deigned to say nothing more in the way of approval than that he was at last beginning to be housed like a human being.
Though the Domus Aurea complex covered parts of the slopes of the Palatine, Esquiline and Caelian hills, with a man-made lake in the marshy bottomlands, the estimated size of the Domus Aurea is an approximation, as much of it has not been excavated. Some scholars place it at over 300 acre, while others estimate its size to have been under 100 acre. Suetonius describes the complex as "ruinously prodigal" as it included groves of trees, pastures with flocks, vineyards and an artificial lake— rus in urbe, "countryside in the city". Nero also commissioned from the Greek Zenodorus a colossal 35.5 m (120 RF) high bronze statue of himself, the Colossus Neronis. The face of the statue was modified shortly after Nero’s death during Vespasian’s reign to make it truly a statue of Sol.
Increasing concerns about the condition of the building and the safety of visitors resulted in its closing at the end of 2005 for further restoration work. The complex was partially reopened on February 6, 2007, but closed on March 25, 2008 because of safety concerns.
The likely remains of Nero's rotating banquet hall and its underlying mechanism were unveiled by archeologists on September 29, 2009.
The current administrative division of central Rome places it in rione Monti.
Sixty square meters (645 square feet) of the vault of a gallery collapsed on March 30, 2010.
The name Domus Aurea has in modern times come to signify wealth, opulence, and luxury. Commercial uses of the name have grown, ranging from luxury hotels to fine wines using the same name to market themselves to a segment of consumers that are aware of the historical significance as well as the indication of affluence that goes with the name Domus Aurea.
- Pliny, C. Secundus (c. 77). Natural History.
- Spartianus, Aelius (117-284). Historia Augusta: The Life of Hadrian.
- Roman architecture
- List of Roman domes
- Great Buildings on-line: Domus Aurea