Palatine Hill or Collis Palatium is one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. This hill happens to be located in the center. Palatine Hill is also special because it is the most ancient part of the city. Its location is on the top, 40 meters above both Forum Romanum and Circus Maximus which bracket the hill from both sides.
History of the Palatine Hill
The History of the Palatine Hill is dominated with legend and Roman mythology. A cave in the hill is believed to be the location where Romulus and Romus were found by the female wolf that eventually raised them for a while until they were found by Faustulus and his wife. As we all know already, Romulus and Remus were the two twins who built the city of Rome according to the legend. They were building the city together before went into a big fight which resulted in Remus’ death.
Another legend related to Palatine Hill is one of Hercules when he defeated Cacus because it stole some cattle. Hercules was believed to strike the beast so hard that a cleft was formed on the southeast corner of the hill.
While in real world history, Palatine hill once became an elite place to live during the Rome’s Republican Era (509 – 44 BC). This was because its magnificent view which was seen from 70 meters above the city. Even in the ancient time where there was very little of pollution, the clean air was also believed to be one of the reasons why Palatine Hill was an elite place to live. Important figures such as Augustus, Cicero and Marc Anthony all were reported to have houses on the hill before soon the place was full of imperial palaces in 27 BC until 476 AD. These imperial palaces provide us with ruins to see today.
Later in the Middle Ages, some churches and religious buildings were built here. It was Cardinal Alessandro Farnese who owned almost all area of the hill and built a botanical garden on the top of palaces’ ruins.
An archaeological excavation was done in the late of 18th century during Augustus’ reign. Some fragments and artifacts from Bronze Age were found. Soon, the emperor declared that the site was the “original town of Rome.” In 1820, the excavation process found an altar to an unknown deity which was once thought to be dedicated to Aius Locutius.
Later excavation by modern archeologists discovered the Palatine House in July 2006. Clementina Panella, the head archaeologist uncovered a section of corridor and fragments under the Palatine Hill. This discovery she described as “a very ancient aristocratic house.” It seems to be a house which was built in two levels with mosaic flooring and frescoed walls. The house also has a stunning view over the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine.
Half year later in January 2007, Irene Iacopi, an Italian archeologist announced that she found the legendary Lupercal cave which was believed to be the place where Romulus and Remus were found under Domus Livia, the residence of Augustus. The photographs later revealed in November 2007 show a partially buried vault fully decorated with seashells and marbles. However, several archeology professors such as Fausto Zevi, Henner von Hesberg, and Adriano La Regina refused the identification of Iacopi’s founding to Lupercal. Instead, they believe that it is a nymphaeum from Neronian times.
Palatine Hill is full of ancient building ruins that visitors can enjoy. Located at the southern part, lied the remains of Septimius Severus’ palace and its bath. Septimius Severus was the Roman emperor between 193 and 211 AD.
To the north, there is Stadium which is adjacent to the palace of Domitian. The palace, is of course located in the center of Palatine Hill. Built in 81 AD, it had two wings, Domus Augustana and Domus Flavia.
In the north-west, visitors can see the House of Livia, the home of Emperor Augustus and his wife Livia. Temple of Apollo and Temple of Cybele are two other ruins that were found in Palatine Hill.
Located in the north-west of Palatine Hill, the name of the garden is taken from Cardinal Allessandro Farnese who acquired the area of land in 1550 and turned it into a garden. The garden was the first botanical garden in Europe and houses numerous rare plants.
Visiting the Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill is open everyday from 09.00 to 19.00 or one hour before sunset. The admission fee is €9, which will give you the access to Palatine Hill, Palatine Museum, and Colosseum. If you want to have a guided tour, audio guides and tour guides are available to make your visit more meaningful and memorable.
To reach the Palatine Hill, you can take Metro and stop at Colosseo station.