Welcome to Nero's first house. Called Domus Transitoria, the luxurious palace of Rome's fifth emperor stretched from the Palatine to the Esquiline hills in Rome. Almost totally destroyed by the Great Fire of 64 A.D. and by official destruction of Nero's legacy following his death, the complex has been virtually reconstructed for the first time.
A movie poster from a 1913 film showing Nero playing the Lyre as Rome burns. History long blamed Nero for starting the fire, with some legends adding that he played his instrument as it burned. However Nero's first palace, built in 60 A.D., was one of the first buildings to be torched in the Great Fire of 64 A.D. Curators of a recently opened exhibit on Nero argue that this fact should clear Nero of responsibility for the fire that nearly destroyed Rome.
"In my brief life I was subjected to insults and accusations of every type… I was accused of setting fire to Rome. But how could I have set fire to my own home?" Nero says in a fictional interview at the Rome exhibition which runs until Sept. 18. "It's not a rehabilitation," said Italian Culture Undersecretary Francesco Giro about the new exhibit, "but an investigation into the many faces of this controversial Roman emperor."
Infamously known as a cruel, depraved and megalomaniac tyrant who persecuted early Christians, had his stepbrother, two of his wives and even his mother murdered, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (37 – 68 A.D. ) was also a man of great culture, loved by the Roman people and hated by aristocrats.
The palace, Domus Transitoria, featured fresco ceilings enriched with gold, glass and lapis lazulis, as shown in this virtual reconstruction.
An elaborate fountain occupied a gently curving wall. Its jets were fed by a waterfall above.
On the opposite side stood a pavilion supported by twelve columns. This is where Nero is believed to have relaxed on torrid summer days.
Because whatever survived the fire was then deliberately destroyed by later emperors, no remains of Nero's first house were believed to exist until excavations brought to light some fragments of the complex.
Remains of the lavishly decorated rooms, once filled with marbles and frescoes featuring epic scenes, are still visible.
Precious marbles covered both the building's walls and floors. Some of the marbles are still visible at the site.
The estate's remains are expected to be opened for viewing to limited groups in September 2011.