Monuments of Rome - Domus Aurea
When Nero inaugurated the house at the end of the work, he was pleased with it, and said that at last he was living in a house worthy of a man'.
Nero, having lost the Domus Transitoria in the famous fire (64 A.D.), built the largest imperial residence in Rome, the Domus Aurea ('Golden House'), expropriating the valley between the Esquiline, Caelian and Palatine (today the valley of the Colosseum).
In these 100 hectares there are, as Suetonius says, porticoes and palaces, pavilions and baths (with sea and sulphur water), gardens, pastures, vineyards and woods 'full of all kinds of domestic and wild animals'.
Around the central pond, the commissioned architects Severus and Celeres erected buildings 'as big as cities', adorned with hundreds of statues taken from Greece and Asia Minor, and preceded by a bronze statue of Nero more than 30 metres high (the 'Colossus', which would later give its name to the Colosseum).
From Domus Aurea Only two adjacent sectors remain on the Oppio hill (incorporated into the foundations of the Baths of Trajan). They include numerous rooms, arranged around a rectangular courtyard and a polygonal recess. The best known : the rooms to the south of the great peristyle, divided into two identical flats with bedrooms, possibly the private residence of the imperial couple ("yellow vault room", "black vault room", "owl vault room" and symmetrical rooms) ; the hall overlooking the polygonal courtyard, with a famous gilded stucco decoration and mythological scenes, poorly preserved but known from Renaissance drawings ('hall of the gilded vault'); the enormous octagonal hall, with walls that are almost non-existent due to the vast openings for access to other rooms. It, together with the surrounding radially arranged rooms, constitutes a masterpiece of Roman architecture.
The pictorial decoration, much of which has been lost, is the work of at least two hands (one possibly by the famous Fabullus, a skilled painter who painted in a toga). Some paintings are of the traditional type, with subtle and fantastic architectural elements enclosing small landscapes painted in rapid brushstrokes. Others profoundly innovate the decorative system, grandly articulated with the inclusion of figures on the various shelves (the first example of the 'fourth style').
Nothing remains of the dining rooms with 'ceilings covered with movable ivory slabs and perforated in such a way as to allow flowers and perfumes to fall', and even the columns, panelling and marble floors of the rooms have been removed and reused in the baths above.
Rediscovered during the Renaissance, the Domus was visited by many artists, who reproduced the ornamental motifs of the paintings (called 'grotesques') and left their signatures graffitied on the walls.