Domus Aurea

3d model and reconstruction

Domus Aurea

The Oppian Hill complex followed an East-West direction for a length of about 400 meters and was divided into groups of rooms placed around large outdoor areas. It has been assumed that the complex we see today, consisting of two sectors, continued in two specular directions, reaching twice the extension of the current one. The whole building “scenically” looked onto the valley of the Colosseum, with the artificial lake and main entrance to the Domus.

The reconstruction  of the complex, from the entrance of the arcades along to the Via Sacra, to the Colosso and the artificial lake (with a boat for the performances, according to the hypo-texts by the archaeologist Andrea Carandini) was made on an urban scale, particularly suitable for bird’s eye views and significant because of the close connection with the urban areas richest in monuments of the ancient city.

On the southern side there are numerous rooms which can be identified as bedrooms (cubicula) or sitting rooms. One of them is the rooms with an alcove known as “della volta nera“, and the black hall with red-backdrop frescoes which we have reconstructed based on the reconstruction of 18th century artists which, although reprocessed according to the style of the time, are a valuable source of knowledge about these wonderful paintings.

The eastern section is more complex because the rooms are distributed around a polygonal courtyard and octagonal hall which is the fulcrum of the whole section. Completely without walls, replaced by large opening towards the surrounding rooms, this hall is covered by a vault with an oculus in the middle. It is here that the coenatio rotunda (round dining room) is hypothetically placed, mentioned by the sources, which “revolved continuously, day and night, like the earth”. Several assumptions have been made about the mechanism allowing for this rotation; most likely it was a hydraulic system applied to a revolving platform or counter-vault, where the constellations were probably depicted. We present a hypothetical reconstruction to show the spectacular impression which this room must have made on guests.

Ever since their discovery, at the end of the 15th century, the sumptuous rooms in Nero’s “Casa d’Oro” have always been extremely fascinating, in connection and probably first of all mostly due to the personality of the Emperor who had them built. An attempt has thus been made to recreate the luxury and refinement atmosphere which must have reigned in those halls, with items, furniture and decorations based on models from other archaeological contexts, mainly in Pompeii, while a sleeping female figure is evocative of the many settings which, from painting to cinema, have been inspired by these places.

Apart from the images in the viewer, on request, it is possible to have videos or other images from different perspectives.

Available multimedia materials:

  • videos
  • images
  • text

Are you interested in Media content on the Domus Aurea?

Short history of

Domus Aurea

The complex was built, at the wish of Nero with the function of a new imperial palace, after the fire of 64 AD and the consequent destruction of the domus transitoria. The sources have passed down the names of the man who worked here: the architects were Severus and Celere, while Fabullus was the decorations painter.

The palace must have had quite a large extension, enclosing in its interior the Palatine and Velian hills and extending buildings as far as the Celian hill, where the Temple of Claudius was transformed into a nymphaeum. Today only a part of the palace is conserved on the Oppian hill, incorporated into the foundation of the Baths of Trajan.

In the central vestibule of the complex it is believed that there was a colossal statue of Nero in the guise of Helios.

Numerous wall paintings and decorations from the Domus have been conserved, in which it possible to discern the hands of various artists: on the one hand, in fact, there are elements of the Hellenistic pictorial tradition, especially the style most popular in the 1st century AD, defined as “impressionistic”; on the other hand, there are also paintings, such as the scene of “Achilles in Skyros”, which are painted in an absolutely original compositional style.

You might also be interested in…

Discover other reconstructions in the same theme area