The complex of Palazzo di Domiziano (Domitian Palace) on the Palatine Hill

"The complex of Palazzo di Domiziano (Domitian Palace) on the Palatine Hill" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Saturday 2nd July 2011

In the last years of the 1st century after Christ, the south eastern area of the Palatino hill sees the construction of the large quarter of the Domizianei palaces with the complexes of the "Stadium of Domiziano", of the "Domus Flavia" and of the "Domus Augustana". It occupies nearly the whole of the Palatine Hill and consists of a number of buildings that were planned by architect C.Rabirius for emperor Domitian (from the Flavia family) in 81-96 A.D..

Palatine Hill (Palatino)
In the process of Palazzo di Domiziano (Palace of Domitian) creation were demolished or buried numerous earlier constructions, from private houses to Imperial palaces.

The complex of Palazzo di Domiziano (Domitian Palace) includes:

  1. The Flavian Palace (Domus Flavia) [official palace],
  2. The Augustus Palace or House (Palazzo di Domus Augustana/ Casa di Augusto) [Imperial residence]
  3. Stadium of Domitian (Stadio di Domiziano)/ hippodrome/ Circus Agonalis

Flavian Palace (Domus Flavia)

In the center of the palace is the peristyle with a fountain. Because of Domitian's constant dread of assassination he is supposed to have had the walls covered with slabs of Cappodocian marble whose mirror-like surface enabled him to see anyone approaching. Nevertheless, he was murdered in his bedroom. The palace included a series of small rooms with apses, state-bases, baths, three large halls.
Palace of Domitian or Flavian Palace (Domus Flavia)
The central hall is the so-called Aula Regia, or throne room, originally decorated with 16columns and 12 black statues. In the apse was the Imperial throne where the emperor sat when he presided over meetings of his council and received foreign ambassadors. It is thought that there was another room for public ceremonies, Lararium. Beneath it is the House of the Griffins, named after the two griffins in stucco which decorate a lunette in one of the rooms. This is the oldest Republican building preserved on the Palatine (2nd century b.C.); it is rich with the painting decorations and mosaic pavements. Basilica Jovis was also located on the territory of Domus Flavia.

It was divided by two rows of columns, had an apse, and may have been used as an auditorium. Beneath it was the Aula of Isis, a large rectangular hall, with an apse. The mural paintings have been detached and are now exhibited in a room of the Domus Augustana. There was also a triclinium, i.e. banqueting hall. It had an apse and a dinnig table of emperor; its pavement was done of coloured marbles. Leading out of triclinium was a court with an oval fountain.

Augustus Palace or House (Palazzo di Domus Augustana/ Casa di Augusto)

This Domitian Palace (Palazzo di Domiziano) was a private residence of the emperor Domitian and his family. The name "Augustana" comes from the fact that every emperor after Octavian Augustus (the founder of the Roman Empire) was adjoining to his name "Augustus". This extraordinary impressive construction had two levels connected by a marble staircase and was compound of halls, courtyards and fountains.

the Domus Augustana (Augustus’ house/ Casa di Augusto) [Imperial residence]
Augustus Palace or House (Palazzo di Domus Augustana/ Casa di Augusto) is one of the most refined and elegant examples of pictorial decoration in a private setting. The palace was used as the Roman emperor's private residence while the nearby Flavian Palace was used for state functions. Stunning views of Rome can be enjoyed from Domus Augustana.

The upper part of the ruins of the palace was called Villa Mills, from the Scottish Charles Mills, who in 1820 transformed in curious neo-Gothic style a little previous construction built here in the 16th century by Duke Paolo Mattei, over the ancient ruins acquired by him from the Colonna and other noble families. Thus, the villa was decorated with the frescoes perhaps by B.Peruzzi, that were detached and lost in the middle of the 19th century when Villa Mills became the seat of the Convent of Visitation.

Later, it was destroyed except one section, in which the Antiquarium Palatino was housed. It was formed with the material collected in 1860-1870 from the excavations begun by Napoleon III in the Farnese Gardens. The contents include wall decorations and frescoes, stucco, marble intarsia, sculptures and painted terracotta panels.

The rooms which today can be visited are made up of a ramp covered by a barrel vault, entirely covered, both on the ceiling and walls, with frescoes; two small rooms which would have been used to host visitors and finally another room used for private purposes.

The expressive form of the décor dates the rooms to the midst of the “second style”, according to a dating that places the decoration at between the first century B.C. and the first century A.D. : the perception of a consciously sought-after archaic character is notable in the official halls, as are the more aerial and fantastic thematic and colour connotations in Augustus’ so called “little office”.

In front of House of Livia (Casa di Livia) is the Casa di Augusto, Augustus’ separate residence. Opened to the public in 2008 after years of restoration, the casa boasts superb frescoes.

Stadium of Domitian (Stadio di Domiziano)/ hippodrome/ Circus Agonalis

Immediately adjacent to the Flavian Palace on the Palatine Hill is the Hippodrome of Domitian. This is a structure which has the appearance of a Roman Circus and whose name means Cirgus in Greek, but is of insufficient size to accommodate chariots. It can be better described as a Greek Stadium, that is, a venue for foot races. According to guide from the Sopraintendenza Archeologica di Roma, most of the statuary in the nearby Palatine museum comes from the Hippodrome.

This is the best conserved construction of all three pieces of the Palace of Domitian. It was also built according to a project of architect of Domitian, Ribarius. It served for the sport competitions, horse races and, probably, as a garden for the imperial family. The stadium is 146m long. The arena was surrounded by a two-storeyed portico with engaged columns covering a wide ambulatory or cloister. In the middle of the east wall is a wide exedra of two storeys, which served as an Imperial box.

We all know that Piazza Navona is one of the most remarkable examples of the city-planning continuity of Rome, perfectly maintaining the shape of the large ancient stadium built by Emperor Domitian before the year 86 AD, to host the Greek Athlete Games that he was very fond of. At the center of the long sides there were two entrances.
Stadium of Domitian (Stadio di Domiziano)
A third entrance was at the center of the curved side. Their impressive structures are still visible under the INA Palace, in Piazza di Tor Sanguigna. The stadium could hold about thirty thousand spectators and was decorated with statues and marble groups. Pasquino that is the most famous Roman talking statue was probably one of the marblegroups that actually represents Menelaus supporting Patroclus.

Domitian, was a Roman Emperor (51-96 AD) who had a passion for sport. He implemented the Capitoline Games in 86 AD which were similar to the Olympic Games. Held every four years, the games included various athletic events and chariot races. Gladiator fights, including ones between female and dwarf gladiators were also held.

Nowadays the area where was antiquely located the stadium of Domiziano is occupied by Piazza Navona which exactly copies the perimeter, so that it can practically claim to have the same dimensions and the same curve towards north; it is still possible to see the pre existing roman structure in the foundations of some edifices, as well as in the undergrounds of the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. The Palazzo di Domiziano (Domitian Palace) or Stadium of Domitian (Stadio di Domiziano) or hippodrome, also known as the Circus Agonalis, was located to the north of the Campus Martius in Rome.

PLEASE NOTE: The Stadium of Domitian (Stadio di Domiziano) is closed for maintenance until further notice.

Contact - Palatine Hill (Flavian Palace (Domus Flavia) & (Augustus’ house/ Casa di Augusto)
Piazza Santa Maria Nova, 53 (Via di San Gregorio, 30)
00186 Rome, Italy
Zone: Rione Campitelli (Foro Romano - Campidoglio-P.Venezia) (Roma centro)/ Rione Celio (Terme di Caracalla) (Roma centro)
Palace of Flavian (Flavia), Augustana (Augustus) & Stadium of Domitian (Domiziano) on the Palatine Hill is Shown By "Map K Zone" As "29 and 35"
Hours: Opening hours from 8.30 am to one hour before sunset (Good Friday 8.30 am – 2.00 pm): January 2 - February 15: 8.30 am - 4.30 pm, February 16 to March 15: 8.30 am - 5.00 pm, March 16 - last Saturday of March: 8.30 am - 5.30 pm, Last Sunday of March - August 31: 8.30 am - 7.15 pm, September 1 to September 30: 8.30 am - 7.00 pm, October 1 - Last Saturday of October: 8.30 am - 6.30 pm, Last Sunday of October - December 31: 8.30 am - 4.30 pm, Closed: January 1, December 25. The ticket office closes one hour before closing time.
Telephone: +39 06 39967700 (Monday-Friday: 9.00 am - 6.00 pm; Saturday: 9.00 am - 2.00 pm).
Transportation: Next to the Roman Forum and the Circus Maximus in central Rome; main entrance is near the Arch of Titus and Colosseum, a second entrance is on Via di San Gregorio. The entrance is in front of the Colosseum. See: Roman Forum or Forum Romanum (Foro Romano) Transportation
Buy Ticket Online: http://www.pierreci.it/it/acquista-il-biglietto/biglietto-on-line.aspx

Contact - Stadium of Domitian (Stadio di Domiziano)
Piazza di Tor Sanguigna, 13
Zone: Rione Ponte (Via Coronari-Ponte Vittorio) (Roma centro)
Hours: Closed: Monday, January 1, May 1, December 25. Open to organized groups by reservation only.
Entrance: Adults: € 3,00, Concessions: € 2,00, Please note: The price of the ticket does not include guided tours organized by Cultural Associations.
Telephone and Booking: Reservation required. Groups: tel. +39 060608 (daily from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm);
Schools: tel. +39 0642888888 (Moday-Friday: 9.00 am - 6.00 pm; Saturday: 9.00 am- 1.00 pm).

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