Nero's Golden House - Domus Aurea
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Nero's Golden House

Golden House
Golden House of Nero, Rome

After the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, the Roman Emperor Nero took advantage of the space where many buildings had burned down to build himself a new palace right in the middle of downtown Rome, which he called the Golden House (Domus Aurea). We know about the Golden House in two ways. The Roman historian Suetonius describes it for us, and also archaeologists have found it and excavated it (and you can visit it in Rome today).

brick wall with plaster ceiling

The Golden House was certainly very luxurious. For example, it had an eight-sided dining room with a ceiling that was painted with the moon and stars. On nice evenings, according to Suetonius, you could open up the ceiling so that the real sky would be above you while you were eating.

In front of the Golden House, Nero put an enormous statue of himself, covered with gold. It was called the Colossus, because it was so big. The Roman Colosseum is named after this statue.

Learn by doing: go see a place where there has recently been a big fire
Famous wall paintings from the Golden House

Bibliography and further reading about the Golden House (the Domus Aurea):

The Domus Aurea and the Roman Architectural Revolution, by Larry F. Ball (2003).

Roman Architecture, by Frank Sear (1983). The standard college textbook.

The Architecture of the Roman Empire: An Introductory Study, by William MacDonald (1982). Actually not so introductory, but it's got great illustrations that really make the building techniques clear.

Roman Imperial Architecture, by J. B. Ward-Perkins (1992). A more detailed textbook, and harder going.

More about the Emperor Nero
Nero and the Christians

Domitian's Palace
More Roman Architecture
More about Ancient Rome home

Copyright 2012-2015 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated September 2015.

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