Domus Aurea (Palace of Nero)

The Domus Aurea (Golden House), Rome (A.D. 64-68 and possibly later), was built or begun by Nero after the great fire in A.D. 64. It was less a palace than a series of pavilions and a long wing comprising living and reception rooms, all set in a vast landscaped park with an artificial lake in its centre where the Colosseum now stands. Most of it has largely disappeared. The main architectural interest lies in the wing just referred to, known as the Esquiline wing, which stood a little to the north of the lake and was subsequently built over to form part of the enclosure of the Baths of Trajan. It most resembled the country and seaside portico villas of Campagna, and was open to the views of and beyond the lake. The more westerly part, which was certainly of Nero's time, also had a peristyle behind the façade. In the centre, the façade was set back, following three sides and two half-sides of an octagon. To the right of this was the less conventionally planned eastern part, which contained the feature of greatest importance and originality. This was an octagonal hall roofed by a concrete dome, 14.7 m (50 ft) across the corners, and open on all sides to the garden or to surrounding smaller rooms—as far as is known the first appearance in a building of this kind of a new concept of interior space which was to come increasingly to the fore over the next half-century.
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