The Golden Palace of the Emperor Nero
When Rome burned in A.D. 64, the Emperor Nero forbade extinguishing the fires because he needed space for his new residence in the densely populated Rome. From the Palatine to the Esquiline, the Golden Palace was to be a beautifully furnished residence with gold and ivory decorations and spacious gardens and an artificial lake. The ambitious scale project exceeded the funding and powers of the Emperor and so the palace remained unfinished till his death. Nero's successors used the complex in other ways and built the present museum to replace the artificial lake and, over the 104 burned down palaces, they built the Baths of Trajan. During the Renaissance, archaeologists discovered the ground floor rooms and the basement compartments of the imperial palace under the earth. Numerous works of art, like the famous LaocoönGroup,can be seen today in the Vatican Museums. Renaissance painters studied the elaborate frescoes in the underground rooms, which they described as grottoes and developed their new style of painting, the grotesque painting.
The underground area can only be visited as part of a pre-registered guided tour. You can register under www.pierreci.it or at the Visitor Centre. The underground rooms and corridors are still equipped with some beautiful frescoes and are worth visiting.