The Palatine

The Palatine hill preserves the remains of Iron Age settlements connected with the earliest core of the city of Rome. The hill was home to important civic cults, including the Magna Mater (Cybele) and, between the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, it became the residential district of the Roman aristocracy, with elegant houses characterised by exceptional painted and paved decorations, such as those preserved in the House of the Griffins. Augustus symbolically chose the hill as the site of his own house, which consisted of several buildings, including the House of Livia. Later the hill became the site of the imperial palaces: the Domus Tiberiana, the Domus Transitoria and then the Domus Aurea, and finally the Domus Flavia, divided into a public and private sector, the latter being known as the Domus Augustana. From their complex and partly overlapping plans, it is possible to understand how the different residences were connected to each other partly by underground passages, often richly decorated, of which the Neronian Cryptoporticus remains one of the best preserved examples. The presence of the imperial residences on the hill gave rise to a process of identification. In this way the toponym Palatium came, in modern languages, to mean a royal palace.
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