Palatine Hill is the centermost of the famous seven hills of Rome. It is located in between such places as the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. According to the archaeological data the hill was inhabited as long ago as the tenth century BC.
Palatine Hill has a strong link to Roman mythology. It is believed the famous twins Romulus and Remus were found here and they decided to build the city on the hill where the Roman Empire began.
During the Rome’s Republican era Palatine Hill became the fashionable place to live. The place offers spectacular views and stretches to a height of about seventy meters above the city. It was also believed that the air in the area was cleaner and those who lived on the top of the hill were less likely to catch the diseases of the working class. For this reason the entire hill was covered with imperial palaces.
During the Middle Ages, churches and convents were built on Palatine Hill. Later, almost the entire hill was owned by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, who created an ornate botanical garden on top of the ruins.
Ruins of the Palatine Hill
There are lots of ruins from ancient palaces on the Palatine Hill. At the southern end, bordering Circus Maximus are the remains of the palace of Septimius Severus, Roman emperor between 193 and 211 AD. Adjacent to the palace lays the ruins of the Baths of Septimius Severus. Just north of the palace of Septimius Severus is the so-called stadium. It is not clear if this area was actually a public or private stadium or that it was used as a private imperial garden.
The stadium was built together with the Palace of Domitian, which formed the heart of the Palatine Hill. For three centuries the palace, built in 81 AD, held the title of Rome’s largest palace. Domitian’s Palace was constructed between two crests after the tallest one – the Palatium – was topped off and the ground used to level the hilltop. The palace consisted of two wings: a private one (the Domus Augustana) and a public one (the Domus Flavia). Remains of both wings can still be found.
At the north-west end of the Palatine Hill are the ruins of the Palace of Tiberius built in the 1st century AD.
Since cardinal Allessandro Farnese acquired the area in 1550 and decided to fill in the ruins and build a garden on top of it. It was one of the first botanical gardens in Europe, featuring many rare plants. The garden was connected to the Roman Forum via several flights of stairs.
Location: Between the Forum Romanum and Circus Maximus, Rome
Nearby sights: Arch of Titus, Arch of Janus, Circus Maximus
How to get there: Get off the train at Roma Ostiense and take the metro north one stop to Circus Maximus
Nearby hotels: Kolbe Hotel Rome, Palazzo al Velabro – Serviced Apartment, Fortyseven Hotel