MAY 05,2014 - MAY 05,2014 (1 DAYS)
The Palatine Hill:
Start: Colosseum Metro station.
End: Circo Massimo Metro station or Colosseum Metro station.
Orientation: Enjoy wonderful views over the city. The views from Palatine Hill are breathtaking. History as old as Caesar Augustus. People say it is better than the Roman Forum. We advised you (in the Roman Forum trip) buying the combined ticket (Forum, Palatine Hill, Colosseum) in the Forum entrance. So, our advice is that you allow the first 1/2 day (from early morning) visiting the Forum - and, immediately, after completing your visit there - head to the Palatine Hill for the remainder of the day. The Palatine Hill is the only quiet, tranquil area in the midst of the usually overcrowded Forum and Colosseum. The last section of this Palatine Hill trip, the Vigna Barberini (artificial platform/terrace, opened to the public in October 2009), with its SPECTACULAR views over the Colosseum and the Forum - is the most rewarding during the whole day !
Access: There are four routes of access to the Palatine. The first leads from Via San Gregorio Magno through the gateway designed by Vignola as the entrance to the Farnese Gardens. The other three start from the Forum: the Clivus Capitolinus, which leads past the Arch of Titus; the flight of steps at the House of the Vestals; and the large vaulted passage at Santa Maria Antiqua. We enter the palatine Hill through the SECOND way (see the Roman Forum trip) and exit the Palatine Hill through the FIRST one. If you choose to open with the Palatine Hill:
Palatine Hill Entrance: As the entrance ticket to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill also includes the Colosseum most people will visit all three at the same time. The ticket kiosk at the Colosseum has by far the longest queues and for other reason we suggest you start and buy your ticket at the Forum (better solution for taking photos and more comfortable with hot weather) or the Palatine Hill entrance in San Gregorio road (if the Forum entrance is too busy). The ticket gate for the Palatine Hill often has no queues at all and is midway down the road Via di San Gregorio that runs from the Colosseum along the base of the Palatine Hill less than 5 minutes walk from the Colosseum.
Starting your visit in the Palatine Hill: Enter from San Gregorio. From the Palatine Hill entrance walk uphill exploring the Palatine Hill is more gradual than from the Roman Forum with more shade. After performing a circuit of the Palatine Hill you will get a great birds eye view down onto the Roman Forum as you descend into it, getting a good initial orientation in the process.
From the Roman Forum to the Palatine Hill:
With your back to the Forum and face to the Arch of Titus, turn TWICE RIGHT (follow the Palatine Hill signposts) to start "climbing" to the Palatine Hill. As you enter the Palatine, don't follow the ramp up the hill that is directly in front of you. Instead, climb the stairway to your right, stopping on the first platform to see the view over the forum. Climb more steps, stopping to see the fishpond and the moss covered waterfall and pausing at various stages to see the views. At the top there is an overlook of the forum from the balcony between the twin pavilions of the Vignola aviary that is heart-stopping, (and that's why this is the recommended route.).
Tips (apply to the Forum as well):
+Never when the ground is muddy or wet.
+Do not take a hot day. Ideal to browse on a fine day with the sun out !
+There is no food in the complex. Bring your own if you are visiting over lunch.
+Bring bottles of water or fill them with fresh water springs not far from the Arch of Titus at the entrance.
+Children ? maybe, only with ages 16 upwards...
+Go early and avoid the crowds. Then, buy your ticket and start with the Forum. Leave the Palatine Hill for the late afternoon hours in hot days. Around 12.00 all the tourists from the Colosseum start showing up. Buy your combo ticket at the Palatine Hill only if it is too crowded in the Forum entrance. As you walk past the very long line waiting to buy tickets at the Colosseum, you will be very glad you have your ticket and can walk straight into the Colosseum.
+Go late afternoon hours (during the summer) when the sunlight is soft - if you visit the Palatine Hill only.
+If you rush, don't waste time coming here. To truly appreciate the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, you need to slow down, make sense of the history and sights around you - from whatever source that you prefer. Allow, to the Forum and the Palatine Hill, at least, 5-6 hours - if you are unencumbered with children.
+ Keep in mind that the Palatine Hill is is extremely badly signed.
Admission: The standard admission ticket covers all three monuments, The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Current admission price for tickets bought in Rome at the site is 12 euros. You can order tickets in advance for which there are booking fees (at least 2 euros). Opening hours are from 8.30 am to one hour before sunset. With the Roma Pass this triple-sites combined ticket and Castel Sant Angelo are a great combination to use your free entrances on. With Roma Pass you can't get audio guide unless you queue...
Background: It was on the Palatine Hill that Rome first became a city. Legend tells us that the date was 753 B.C. The new city originally consisted of nothing more than the Palatine, which was soon enclosed by a surprisingly sophisticated wall, remains of which can still be seen on the Circus Maximus side of the hill. When the last of the ancient kings was overthrown (Lucius Tarquinius Superbus or Tarquinius II) (510 B.C.), Rome had already extended over several of the six adjoining hills and valleys. As Republican times progressed, the Palatine became a fashionable residential district. So it remained until Tiberius -- who, like his predecessor, Augustus, was a bit too modest to call himself "emperor" out loud - began the first of the monumental palaces that eventually covered the entire hill. The palace of Tiberius was the first to be built here; others followed, notably the gigantic extravaganza constructed for Emperor Domitian.
We assume that you've completed your half-day tour of the Roman Forum. We devote the second half of the day to the Palatine Hill (Cole Palatino). The sun, now, is in the west and we'll get spectacular views of the Forum from the top (and on our way to the top) of the Palatine Hill. We return to whole way to the Arch of Titus. With our face to the Arch of Titus and our back to the Roman Forum we turn RIGHT (south). On our right is the Via Nova. Here we can take marvelous photos of the whole Forum from the lookout point in the end of the Via Nova:
We shall turn right and climb the stairs to the Orti Farnese or Farnese Gardens. We continue climbing the stairs to the Aviary and Teatro del Fontanone:
Head up the steps that lead to the top of the embankment to the north. Once on top, you'll be in the (Orti Farnesiani) Farnese Gardens: created in 1550 on the northern portion of Palatine Hill, by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. They were the first private botanical gardens in Europe (the first botanical gardens of any kind in Europe being started by Italian universities in the mid-16th century, only a short time before). They're constructed on top of the Palace of Tiberius, which was the first of the great imperial palaces to be built on this hill. It's impossible to see any of it, but the gardens are cool and laid out nicely. Though little of the Farnese Gardens survives today, some remnant structures may be seen. The stairs to the Farnese Gardens pass by the Nymphaeum, an artificial grotto dedicated to the nymphs of the springs. Stairways continue upwards to the Aviaries of the Farnese Gardens.
Follow the signs for the House of Livia. It is completely north-west to all sites and also north-west to the Palatin Museums. The building, believed to be the residence of Livia (58 BC – 29 AD), the wife of Augustus, is currently undergoing renovation. While closed most of the time, the House of Livia will sometimes open for brief periods, so check by phoning or online at www.pierreci.it. The House of Livia (Augustus' wife) was part of the palace of Augustus and is so called because the inscription "Livia Augusta" was found on a lead pipe in one of the rooms. Augustus himself may have lived in these apartments. Although the external buildings were simple, in keeping with the unpretentiousness of the first Emperor, the interior, as seen from the atrium and four rooms, reveals the comfortable lifestyle of the Romans at the time of Christ. Central heating was conducted through ceramic pipes in the walls, and the rooms were decorated with elegant paintings in the Pompeian (second period) style. Livia was the wife of Rome's first, and possibly greatest, emperor, Augustus. She is one of the maon heroes of Robert Graves' book "I Claudius". Augustus married Livia when she was six months pregnant by her previous husband, whom Augustus "encouraged" to get a divorce. As empress, Livia became a role model for Roman women, serving her husband faithfully, shunning excessive displays of wealth, and managing her household. But she also had real influence: As well as playing politics behind the scenes, she even had the rare honor (for a woman) of being in charge of her own finances. Here, atop the Palatine, is where she made her private retreat and living quarters. The delicate, delightful frescoes reflect the sophisticated taste of wealthy Romans, whose love of beauty and theatrical conception of nature were revived by their descendants in the Renaissance Age.
Livia and Augustus House (the south wing):
View of Rome from Livia's House:
The Archaic Cisterns opposite Livia's House:
At the most northern-West corner of the palatine hill is the Temple of Cybele or Magna Mater, the Great Mother. Not much to see. The Temple of Cybele in the Farnese Gardens was built in 204 B.C. to house the "Black Stone" of the goddess, following guidance given by the Sibylline Books. Rock-cuttings found in front of the temple represent the earliest evidence of human settlement on the Palatine (ninth-eighth centuries B.C.), a dwelling site of the early Iron Age which has been christened the "House of Romulus".
The real attraction in the Palatine Hill are the views and the quiet atmosphere around. The views over the Roman Forum and the other ruins are great, especially on a sunny evening with the sun setting. To know about the historical structures, ruins one should have a guide or accompany with Tipter blog or someone who know these places. The ruins are beautiful in themselves, but the vistas between them make for some magic snaps. At one moment you are struck by a view of the dome of Saint Peter Basilica in the distance and then you find yourself looking down to find the impressive ruins of the Forum laid out below.
View to Gianicolo Hill from Farnese Gardens:
View to St. Peter Basilica from Farnese Gardens:
View to Vittorio Emanuele Monument from Farnese Gardens:
View to the Roman Forum from Farnese Gardens:
From the lookout balcony we pass by the Domus Tiberiana which is under excavations and closed to the public. We see the Rose Garden (Boni Garden) with, again, lookout area and marvelous views to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum:
Along with the so-called Domus Augustana (below), this is part of the complex constructed between 80 and 92 AD. This area of the palace consists of the public spaces of the palace. In this section of the complex lay a large basilica, the Aula Regia (essentially a room for state affairs), a dining room, Lararium and a peristyle courtyard from which the apartments radiate. At the southern end was an oval Nymphaeum, which survives remarkably well. Finally, between the Nymphaeum and the edge of the palace above the circus maximus lie two rooms usually associated with the libraries of the nearby Temple of Apollo which Domitian restored and incorporated. This part of the palace is on ground that slopes away toward the forum on which earlier buildings existed. Thus beneath the Domus Flavia are many preserved rooms (though none currently open to the public.) In general, the Domus Flavia part of the palace is not as well preserved as the private apartments to the southeast. The Domus Augustana, or House of Augustus, was an enormous and lavish palace by the Flavian Palace on Palatine Hill. This palace was used as Emperor Domitian’s private home, while the nearby Flavian Palace was for state functions. Visitors enjoy the spectacular views of Rome from these ancient ruins. Along with Domus Flavia, the Domus Augustana, is described as being some of the most impressive sites of ruins in ancient Rome. The palace was known for its fountains, one which was a large central fountain in the courtyard, and another, the oval fountain, which visitors can view from the nearby Domus Flavia’s dining area.
Domus Flavia and Circo Massimo:
Toward the Circus Maximus, slightly to the left (south-west) of the Flavian Palace, is the Domus Augustana: In modern terms, the name Domus Augustana has been applied often to one particular section of the palace. There may possibly have been structures here under the the Julio-Claudian emperors (particularly part of the Domus Transitorium of Nero), though the remains that can be seen above ground level now date predominantly from the time of Domitian, where a rebuild was ordered after the fire of 80 AD destroyed a lot of the current structures. This massive complex occupies the south-eastern quarter of the Palatine hill. This is where the imperial family lived. The remains lie toward the Circus Maximus, slightly to the left of the Flavian Palace. The new building that stands here -- it looks old to us, but in Rome it qualifies as a new building - is a museum. It stands in the absolute center of the Domus Augustana. At any of several points along this south-facing gazebo of the Palatine Hill, you'll be able to see the faraway oval walls of the Circus Maximus.
Continue with your exploration of the Palatine Hill by heading across the field parallel to the Clivus Palatinus (south-east to the Flavian Palace and the Domus Augustana) until you come to the north end of the Hippodrome, or Stadium of Domitian: The Stadium was commissioned around 80 AD by the Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus as a gift to the people of Rome, and was used mostly for athletic contests. While this is known as the 'stadium' of Domitian and is distinctly Hippodrome in form, it is not a venue for any variety of games. This is, in fact, a grand ornamental garden in circus shape constructed as part of the Flavian palace complex. At the semi-circular end close to the Circus Maximus may have been the Imperial box for viewing games in the circus. Each end of this 'stadium' contained a semicircular fountain and the whole complex was enclosed with an arcade. The gardens were restored by Septimius Severus after the arcading collapsed. Further repairs to the gardens were carried out by Theodoric and Athalaric. The stadium is impressive. As you look down the stadium from the north end, you can see, on the left side, the semicircular remains of a structure identified as Domitian's private box:
The Baths of Septimius: On the far side of the Stadium of Domitian lies the last of the Imperial complexes built on the Palatine. On the south-east corner Septimius Severus constructed an extension to the palace over substructures apparently dating from the time of Domitian. While the foundations nearer the stadium are definitely pre-Severan, the further ones and the superstructures date from the Severan period. A new monumental private baths was constructed on the top with perhaps other private rooms including a tribune from which the races in the circus could be viewed. In addition to the baths of Severus, an extension toward the circus housed a second bath complex constructed by Maxentius. This area is perhaps one of the most impressive areas of the Palatine and it is very frequently NOT open to the public. Below this complex lies the Septizodium constructed by Severus as part of the complex.
Near the east wing/side of the Stadium of Domitian - you can find restroom with very few queuing up.
From the stadium DO NOT take the immediate way down to the exit/entrance. Follow the signpost to Vigna Barberini. The new area of Rome’s Palatine Hill has been opened to the public in October 2009, providing a new viewing platform from the “Vigna Barberini” artificial terrace. The name comes from the Barberini family vineyards that would have once adorned this area of the Palatine Hill, and the terrace is situated on the part of the hill overlooking the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine.It is the first time in history that this part of the Roman ruins of Palatine Hill has been opened, and now from the Vigne Barberini you can pass through to the Arch of Titus. The ‘Vigne Barberini’ has been left mostly as is, and provides another little secret garden in this corner of Rome. NOT TO BE MISSED. Very few tourists know about this secluded part of the hill:
The Aqueduct that comes up the wooded hill used to supply water to the Baths of Septimius Severus, whose difficult-to-understand ruins lie in monumental poles of arched brick at the far end of the stadium. he Aqua Claudia in its original form did not cross the valley between the Caelian and Palatine hills until the constructions of Domitian on the hill. In order to supply his new palace complex with water, Domitian extended the Aqua Claudia across the valley on two levels of arches. With later strengthening under Septimius Severus, these remains (while small) are quite impressive to stand beneath. They lie close to the edge of the Palatine opposite the Caelian hill:
You've now seen the best of the Forum and the Palatine. To leave the archaeological area, continue walking eastward along the winding road that meanders steeply down from the Palatine Hill to Via di San Gregorio. Near the exit/entrance you'll find another extensive, well-kept restroom. If you want to avoid the Circus Maximus (almost nothing to see there...) - continue southward along San Gregorio to hit the Circo Massimo Metro station. On your way out - you can get a closer sight of the Arch of Constantine. Its side opposite the Colosseum - might be under restorations:
If you are still fit - head to the Circus Maximus, Via del Circo Massimo, south of the palatine Hill. From the exit of the Palatine Hill in San Gregorio - head south on Via di San Gregorio toward Piazza di Porta Capena, 300 m. Continue straight onto Piazza di Porta Capena, 56 m. Continue onto Viale Aventìno, 120 m. Turn right onto Via del Circo Massimo, 260 m. The Circo Massimo Metro was on your left.
Little to nothing of it is left. A stretch of grass and some mud, which is let down. The Circus Maximus (Latin for greatest or largest circus, in Italian Circo Massimo) is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium. The Circus lies in a valley formed by the Palatine Hill on the left and the Aventine Hill on the right, next to the Colosseum. The site is now a public park in the centre of the city. It is often used for concerts and meetings. The Rome concert of Live 8 (July 2, 2005) was held there, as was the Italian World Cup 2006 victory celebration. The English band Genesis performed a concert before an estimated audience of 500,000 people in 2007. This was filmed and released as When in Rome 2007.
Its elongated oval proportions and ruined tiers of benches will make you think of Ben-Hur. Today a formless ruin, the victim of countless raids on its stonework by medieval and Renaissance builders, the remains of the once-great arena lie directly behind the church. At one time, 250,000 Romans could assemble on the marble seats, while the emperor observed the games from his box high on the Palatine Hill.
it was the most impressive structure in ancient Rome, located certainly in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods. Emperors lived on the Palatine, and the great palaces of patricians sprawled across the Aventine, which is still a nice neighborhood. For centuries, the pomp and ceremony of imperial chariot races filled this valley with the cheers of thousands.
When the dark days of the 5th and 6th centuries fell on the city, the Circus Maximus seemed a symbol of the complete ruination of Rome. The last games were held in 549 on the orders of Totilla the Goth, who had seized Rome in 547 and established himself as emperor.
The Circus Maximus viewed from the Palatine Hill: