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Domus Aurea - Nero's House, Rome, Italy - visitor information

October 2014. Almost eight years later and the Domus Aurea is finally open to visitors again, albeit it in a restricted and limited fashion. We're offering limited spaces on fully guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays that will allow visitors once again to view some of this very hidden gem.

The Domus Aurea (or ‘golden house’) has one of the most historically exciting stories in Rome, starting with the decadent excesses of Nero and inspiring Renaissance artists such as Raphael to a new style of art (and giving us the word ‘grotesque’ in the process). But back to the beginnings.

An image of Nero's House, RomeAn image of Nero's House, RomePhotograph of Nero's House - Domus Aurea - in Rome, Italy

Nero is famous for his self indulgence of course. We remember the Emperor as the man who fiddled while Rome burned. There were of course no fiddles in first century Rome, and historian Suetonius merely says that the Emperor watched the flames from a tower while singing a song about the razing of Troy. The story may be apocryphal, though it’s argued that Nero had the fires set himself, using the Christians as scapegoats, and thus setting in chain centuries of persecution.

An image of Nero's House, RomePhotograph of Nero's House - Domus Aurea - in Rome, Italy

Nero was licentious, cruel and, frankly, mad. He became emperor when his mother, Agrippina poisoned his step-father Claudius, and Nero in turn murdered his mother. His Domus Aurea was a step too far though. This collection of nymphaeums, banqueting rooms, bath houses, gardens and terraces was surrounded by a vast complex of fountains, drained from the surrounding hills. There was hot and cold running water in the baths; one of the rooms showered visitors in flower petals and perfumes as they entered, and the façade was coated in solid gold. The grounds covered a square mile and contained vineyards and game.

The Romans had enough, and Nero was forced to commit suicide in 68AD. Emperor Vespasian tore down large parts of the Domus Aurea, drained its huge lake, and began the construction of the Colosseum on the lake bed. Trajan built baths on the area and that, for a thousand years or so, was that.

An image of Nero's House, RomePhotograph of Nero's House - Domus Aurea - in Rome, Italy

But the Renaissance saw a reawakening of interest in long-forgotten Classical Rome. Painters, including Raphael, began to explore the old sites. Climbing down ladders into what they believed were caves, or grottos, they found the rooms of the old palace, walls still adorned with paintings. Imitating these in their own work, they dubbed the style grotesque (from grotto). Soon, pagan designs were appearing in paintings and frescoes these Christian artists were carrying out for the pope in the Sistine Chapel and the Logge Vaticane. And so mad, pagan Emperor Nero inspired a new course in devotional Christian art.

Tours today take in the Octagonal Room. The domed salon, with a hole at its centre, is supposed to have rotated with the passing of the day, following the movement of the sun. The building has fine frescoes, with much trompe l’oeuil work of Romans ‘looking at you’ through windows on the walls, and mythical beasts sporting among the vines, trees and fields. There is also a marvellous fresco depiction of Homer’s story of Achilles being sent to Skyros. The tour takes you around surviving terraces and fountains and into the atmospheric underground chambers of the Domus Aurea.

Please note: The controlled atmosphere inside means that the temperature is always around 10 decrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), with 100% humidity - you're strongly advised to take a coat, jacket or pullover with you at any time of the year!

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Coronavirus in Italy


Please note that in order to use your tickets you MUST be able to provide one of the following documents!

  • - Covid19 Green Pass certification (in digital or paper format) able to attest - together with a valid identity document - that they have received at least one dose of one of the vaccines authorized by the EMA or AIFA (Comirnaty by Pfizer-BioNtech, Vaxzevria by Astrazeneca, Janssen by Johnson & Johnson and Moderna)
  • - or have tested negative to a molecular or rapid swab in the last 48 hours
  • - or have recovered from Covid19 in the previous six months.
  • Exemptions: COVID-19 Green Certification is not required for children excluded by age from the vaccination campaign (under 12 years of age) and those exempt on the basis of appropriate medical certification.
Visitors from Israel, Canada, Japan and the United States

With reference to people coming from the countries of Israel, Canada, Japan and the United States, it should be noted that in relation to vaccination certificates issued by the health authorities of these countries, in accordance with the provisions of EU Recommendation no. 2021/912 of 20 May 2021, they must include at least the following data:

  • - Identifying data of the person;
  • - Data regarding the type of vaccine and date(s) of administration.

Please note that certificates must be accepted if they are in Italian, English, French or Spanish. If the certificate is not issued in bilingual form and not in one of the four languages indicated in the Order of the Minister of Health of 18 June 2021, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation.

This documentation must be presented at the entrance when the body temperature is checked.

PLEASE NOTE: If you do not have a Green Pass and a valid identity document, you will not be able to access and your ticket will not be refunded. For further information www.dgc.gov.it

Due to Coronavirus many venues and events are applying strict entry conditions. These will vary by venue but common examples are:

  • You must wear a compliant CE mask (Ordinanza RT n.48) which covers both mouth and nose.
  • Disposable single-use gloves must be worn at all times.
  • Hands (or gloves) must be cleaned with a disinfectant gel on entry.
  • Your temperature (which will be measured on entry) must not be above 37.5°C.
  • Visitors must maintain a social distance of 1.8m at all times.
  • There may be a maximum visitor limit in place - in some cases this may lead to delays

Any conditions may be changed without notice as Italian regulations are updated.

If you are denied entrance because of failure to meet entry conditions, no refunds will be available.