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Roman Forum

Palatine Hill

The Palatine Hill was the most ancient part of Rome. According to tradition, together with the shepherds coming from Albalonga, Romolo founded the "Square Rome" which - after the famous rape of the Sabines and the union of that powerful people of farmers, developped more and more always keeping, since then, the original name Roma

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Later the hill was inhabited by wealthy and rich Romans who, attracted by the splendid position, built here their own villas and palaces. Here, in 63 b.C., was born Ottaviano, who later adopted by Julius Caesar, became the first emperor of Rome with the name of Augustus. His very simple lifestyle and his attachment to the site, had him chose the Palatine as the ideal place to have his Imperial Palace built, the Domus Augustana, which was consacreted in 26 b.C. The main portal in marble was ornated by an enourmous group of statues so that the visitor, entering, had before his eyes an incredible show of beauty. In this group of edifices the first one was an immense Library, with Latin and Greek works, in the middle of which there was a large reading room, ornated with the statue in bronze of Augustus, and all around the walls portraits in bronze and silver of writers and personalities of that time. Augustus held frequently literary entertainments and plays in which only the best men of arts could take part. After the library stood the temple of Apollus, built entirely in Carrara marble, with a carved ivory portal. In front of the palace there was a temple dedicated to Vesta. Today the only part fairly preserved of the buildings dating back to those times is the "House of Livia", faithful wife of the first Roman emperor who closed in self exile after the death of her beloved husband till the last of her days. At Augustus' death his successors found excellent the idea of living on the Palatine, so the hill became the official site of the imperial residences. The emperor Tiberius, follower of Augustus, had the Domus Tiberiana built, which is today completely covered by the Farnese Gardens. The most monumental place of the Palatine is the Domus Flavia erected by Domitian. The rooms were specially designed for parties and solemn ceremonies. The central part was a basilica, where important trials were run before the emperor. It came then the Throne Room, were official ceremonies were held. Behind these rooms there was a courtyard, the Peristyle, surrounded by a portico with enormous columns, at its centre there was a fountain. At the sides of the peristyle there were baths and official rooms. Beyond the peristyle there was a Triclinium, the dining room, the Ninpheum at its flank, with a large fountain, was used instead as summer dining room. With the Settizonio Settimio Severo completed the imperial Palaces upon the Palatine. The edifice was demolished by the pope Sixtus V, but the beautiful terrace from which it is possible to enjoy one of the best panoramas is still preserved. Together with the palace Settimio Severo built also the thermal baths - which were missing in the imperial palaces - of which we still have traces in the conduits. It is important to name also the Pedagogium, were the members of the imperial guard were specially trained. The stadium is another indipendent building. It was Domitian who erected it for olympic games and military trainings. Like the Forum also the imperial palaces were abandoned. In the Middle Ages strongholds and gardens of rich families were built here. The Farnese and the Barberini families created here parks and vineyards. In particular the "Horti Farnesiani" one of the richest botanical gardens of that time.

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