Palatine Hill, right next to the Colosseum, holds the remains of what was once a 150,000 square foot emperor’s palace. Emperor Domitian, who built this palace in about A.D. 81, had a grand view of both The Forum and the Circus Maximus. Though not much of the palace remains, you can still get a sense of the opulence and excess of the Roman emperors. The place had a heck of a backyard, complete with a sunken stadium, gardens, fountains, courtyards, a banquet hall with a heated floor, and a spectacular view of the The Forum!
While looking at The Forum from this bird’s-eye view, you can get oriented to what’s what before you descend for a closer look. We listened in on a tour guide’s description and then went down to do our own tour.
Your entrance to Palatine Hill is covered as part of your Colosseum ticket, or by your Roma Pass, which will also save you standing in line. The entrance to Palatine Hill is on Via di San Gregorio, or from within The Forum. Don’t make the mistake we did of trying to enter near the Arch of Constantine. This is an exit only, although it looks like you can get to Palatine Hill from there — you can’t.
In addition to the ruins of the palace, you will want to visit the Huts of Romulus and the House of Augustus (aka Octavian), the first emperor of Rome. This modest dwelling is a stark comparison to the Imperial Palace built by later emperors. Some of the frescoes in this house have been restored, and, though I did not see them, I hear they are worth the wait to see. Legend holds that the Huts of Romulus mark the birthplace of Rome, founded by none other than Romulus himself.