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Palatine Hill View of the Forum


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Roman Forum, Rome.

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Rome's Palatine Hill: The Complete Guide

Rome's Palatine Hill is one of the famous "Seven Hills of Rome"—the hills near the Tiber River where different ancient settlements once developed and gradually joined together to form the city. The Palatine, one of the hills closest to the river, is traditionally regarded as the founding site of Rome. Legend holds that it was here in 753 B.C. that Romulus, after killing his brother, Remus, built a defensive wall, set up a system of government and started the settlement that would grow to become the greatest power of the ancient Western World. Of course, he named the city after himself.

The Palatine Hill is part of the main archaeological area of ancient Rome and is adjacent to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Yet many visitors to Rome only see the Colosseum and Forum and skip the Palatine. They are missing out. The Palatine Hill is full of fascinating archaeological ruins, and admission to the hill is included with the combined Forum/Colosseum ticket. It's always far less visited than those other two sites, so can offer a nice respite from the crowds.

Here are some of the most important sites on the Palatine Hill, plus information on how to visit.


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Panoramic view of the ruins of ancient Rome at the Roman Forum from Palatine Hill, Rome, Italy, June 28, 2018 - stock photo

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Palatine hill

The Palatine Hill is part of the Colosseum Archaeological Park. The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Colosseum can all be visited with the same ticket. One entrance to the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum is on Via dei Fori Imperiali, the other entrance is on Via di San Gregorio, between the Colosseum and Circus Maximus.

There are a number of wonderful viewpoints on the Palatine Hill. In order to be able to visit them all, you have to calculate at least two hours. If you also want to visit the Roman Forum, you have to add at least one more hour.

For the Palatine, it is best to choose the entrance on Via di San Gregorio. You then climb left towards the Circus Maximus and come to the ruins of the Imperial Palace. From there you can see the circus in front of you and behind it the Aventine, on the right the synagogue and St. Peter’s Basilica and on the left the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and further to the left the Baths of Caracalla.

You can then turn north towards St. Peter’s Basilica and further east towards the Roman Forum and find a series of other vantage points that offer a view of the city, the Capitol, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Read the Colosseum in 3 hours with Forum and Palatine Hill.

Colosseum

The Colosseum climbs steeply. From the 2nd floor, which you can visit with the normal ticket, you have a beautiful view of the Arch of Constantine and the Roman Forum.

Above that there are three floors that are unfortunately currently closed. From the top you have a breathtaking panorama.


Additional Sites on Palatine Hill

Other buildings of note on Palatine Hill include the Stadium of Domitian, who ruled between 81 AD-96 AD. Although it was designed in the style of a Roman circus, with dimensions of approximately 160 x 48 m, it was too small for chariots. It’s true purpose was more likely as a sunken garden. The stadium was the last part of Domitian’s palace that was built, and was originally surrounded by a two-story portico.

Domitian was a huge fan of sports, and even founded the Capitoline Games in 86 AD, which were similar to the Olympic Games. So it’s likely that he used this field for sports events of some kind.

This structure is an exedra, where the emperor and his family could view the races and games from a great vantage point. The stadium itself could hold up to 30,000 spectators!

This is a view of the stadium from the opposite end of the field. Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, added this oval enclosure, possibly a racing track, around the 6th Century AD.

The stadium was part of the Domus Augustana, the domestic wing of Domitian’s Palace. Below is the palace courtyard, containing a water garden:

This stepped basin may have been a fishpond:

The Domus Flavia, or Flavian Palace, was also part of Domitian’s vast residential complex.

This is part of the remains of the Palace of Septimus Severus, who ruled as emperor between 193 AD-211 AD, alongside Geta and Caracalla.

In 476 AD, Emperor Romulus was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, effectively bringing the Roman Empire to an end. During the Middle Ages, Palatine Hill became home to churches and convents.


Galleria Lapidaria and Tabularium

In an underground passageway that leads from the Palazzo dei Conservatori to the Palazzo Nuovo is a special gallery that opens up onto views of the Roman Forum. The Galleria Lapidaria contains epigraphs, epitaphs (tomb inscriptions) and the foundations of two ancient Roman homes. This is also where you will find the Tabularium, which contains additional foundations and fragments from ancient Rome. Passing through the Galleria Lapidaria and the Tabularium is a superb way to gain a better understanding of ancient Rome and get a unique view of the Roman Forum.


Aerial view of Circus Maximus on Palatine Hill / view of Colosseum and Forum in background / Rome, Italy - stock video

Your Easy-access (EZA) account allows those in your organization to download content for the following uses:

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By clicking the Download button, you accept the responsibility for using unreleased content (including obtaining any clearances required for your use) and agree to abide by any restrictions.


The regal period, 753–509 bc

Romulus, Rome’s first king according to tradition, was the invention of later ancient historians. His name, which is not even proper Latin, was designed to explain the origin of Rome’s name. His fictitious reign was filled with deeds expected of an ancient city founder and the son of a war god. Thus he was described as having established Rome’s early political, military, and social institutions and as having waged war against neighbouring states. Romulus was also thought to have shared his royal power for a time with a Sabine named Titus Tatius. The name may be that of an authentic ruler of early Rome, perhaps Rome’s first real king nothing, however, was known about him in later centuries, and his reign was therefore lumped together with that of Romulus.

The names of the other six kings are authentic and were remembered by the Romans, but few reliable details were known about their reigns. However, since the later Romans wished to have explanations for their early customs and institutions, historians ascribed various innovations to these kings, often in stereotypical and erroneous ways. The three kings after Romulus are still hardly more than names, but the recorded deeds of the last three kings are more historical and can, to some extent, be checked by archaeological evidence.

According to ancient tradition, the warlike founder Romulus was succeeded by the Sabine Numa Pompilius, whose reign was characterized by complete tranquility and peace. Numa was supposed to have created virtually all of Rome’s religious institutions and practices. The tradition of his religiosity probably derives from the erroneous connection by the ancients of his name with the Latin word numen, meaning divine power. Numa was succeeded by Tullus Hostilius, whose reign was filled with warlike exploits, probably because the name Hostilius was later interpreted to suggest hostility and belligerence. Tullus was followed by Ancus Marcius, who was believed to have been the grandson of Numa. His reign combined the characteristics of those of his two predecessors—namely religious innovations as well as warfare.

Archaeological evidence for early Rome is scattered and limited because it has proven difficult to conduct extensive excavations at sites still occupied by later buildings. What evidence exists is often ambiguous and cannot be correlated easily to the ancient literary tradition it can, however, sometimes confirm or contradict aspects of the ancient historical account. For example, it confirms that the earliest settlement was a simple village of thatched huts on the Palatine Hill (one of the seven hills eventually occupied by the city of Rome), but it dates the beginning of the village to the 10th or 9th century bc , not the mid-8th century. Rome therefore cannot have been ruled by a succession of only seven kings down to the end of the 6th century bc . Archaeology also shows that the Esquiline Hill was next inhabited, thus disproving the ancient account which maintained that the Quirinal Hill was settled after the Palatine. Around 670–660 bc the Palatine settlement expanded down into the valley of the later Forum Romanum and became a town of artisans living in houses with stone foundations. The material culture testifies to the existence of some trade as well as to Etruscan and Greek influence. Archaeology of other Latin sites suggests that Rome at this time was a typical Latin community. In another major transition spanning the 6th century the Latin town was gradually transformed into a real city. The swampy Forum valley was drained and paved to become the city’s public centre. There are clear signs of major temple construction. Pottery and architectural remains indicate vigorous trade with the Greeks and Etruscans, as well as local work done under their influence.

Rome’s urban transformation was carried out by its last three kings: Lucius Tarquinius Priscus (Tarquin the Elder), Servius Tullius, and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus ( Tarquin the Proud). According to ancient tradition, the two Tarquins were father and son and came from Etruria. One tradition made Servius Tullius a Latin another described him as an Etruscan named Mastarna. All three kings were supposed to have been great city planners and organizers (a tradition that has been confirmed by archaeology). Their Etruscan origin is rendered plausible by Rome’s proximity to Etruria, Rome’s growing geographic significance, and the public works that were carried out by the kings themselves. The latter were characteristic of contemporary Etruscan cities. It would thus appear that during the 6th century bc some Etruscan adventurers took over the site of Rome and transformed it into a city along Etruscan lines.


Row of cypresses marking the site of Septizodium or Septizonium and S. Gregorio al Celio on the hill to the left

And magnificent indeed was the wing of the palace called Septizonium, because it was seven stories high. The terrace on the top of the building towered to the height of 210 feet above the level of the surrounding streets, commanding one of the finest views over the metropolis. Lanciani - 1888
Neere the Circus were of late three rowes of pillars, one above the other and this monument is called Il Settizonio di Severe, of seven souldiers engraved thereupon, and is thought to be the sepulcher of Septtimius Severus, but the Pope Sixtus the fifth pulled it downe.
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