Italian authorities have partially reopened Rome’s magnificent Domus Aurea (House of Gold) on Sunday some six years into a decade-long restoration effort – Reuters reports. The structure consists of 300-rooms now mostly underground, and was built by Emperor Nero after fires decimated much of Rome in 64 AD. The grand building takes its name from the gold leaf that once covered the surfaces of many of its walls.
However, Structural issues had previously forced the Domus Aurea to be closed to the public in 2005 – after the site was initially opened to visitors in 1999. The site briefly reopened again in 2007 but was then closed again after several cave-ins were reported. But visitors will now be able to enter the site on the weekends while archaeologists continue to work on the Domus Aurea during the week.
Visitors will have to wear hardhats in the event of further structural faults, but this will at least afford them the opportunity to view the historical site and see the ongoing restoration efforts.
“We don’t want people to think that we’ve resolved all the problems of the Domus Aurea, but we wanted to explain to people what we’re doing so that they can participate”. Fedora Filippi, the site’s scientific director told the New York Times.
The Italian government has already spent over £11 million on the restoration project at the site. The total costs are estimated to tally £20 million by the time work has been finished. The complicated work at the site includes plans to displace the weight of the gardens and the Baths of Trajan, that now sit at street level, on top of Nero’s architectural masterpiece.
Archaeologists are also attempting to protect the grand palace’s frescoes, which inspired Renaissance masters Michelangelo and Raphael, from damage due to high humidity levels that cause damage to the historical works in the depths of the fragile cavernous structure.