The Palatine (Hill), along with the Roman Forum and the Colosseum is one of the top sites in Rome. Imperial palaces have been built on this spot, since Augustus built one back in 27BC. So much so, that this is where the word Palace originates from.
Partial ruins of Augustus, Tiberius and Domitians’ palaces can still be seen and even the Hut of Romulus* the home of the first king of Rome (771BC). It is difficult to believe that some visitors, short on time, dismiss this site as not interesting enough. Our Airbnb host in Rome, recommended the Palatine and Terme di Caracalla as her two favourite outdoor sites to visit and I admit that I would return to the Palatine again and again. Just to wander at ease through the ruins (no crowds in late April) is a pleasure, and it is easy to envisage at least some of what went on all those centuries ago. Even outside of Spring you will find less crowds here than at either the Forum or Colosseum.
One of the features that attracts me to the Palatine is it’s lines of towering plane trees, or umbrella palms, with their bare leaning trunks and crowns of green. I know I’m in Rome when I see them and this open-air museum wouldn’t be the same without them.
But, the real emblem of Rome is from mythology – the she-wolf named Lupa. When Amulius threw babies Romulus* and Remus into the Tiber River, Lupa rescued them, mothering the future founders of Rome in a cave, here on what was to become one of Rome’s iconic seven hills. Eventually a herdsman named Faustulus found and raised the brothers, but until then they survived solely by suckling the wolf.
This statue is not on site.
Palatine wolf drinking water fountain. Free fountains are a common sight in Rome.
Toward the end of April Spring is running riot in Rome. The trees are in full flower and the air is full of blossom – pack antihistamines if you need them.
Allergies aside, this is probably the best time to visit. Skies are mostly sunny and temperatures mild and perfect for walking in the wide open Palatine spaces. A mini picnic would go down well on the grass beneath the big trees or even beneath the branches of an olive.
Main Courtyard and Sunken Octagonal Fountain. See the remnant column that once supported a shade structure.
The emperor and his court had views over the 6th century BCE Circus Maximus where the Romans held chariots races. The Circus now is just a long open dirt space with green banks alongside, but walking along it and contemplating it from the grassy slope is one of those special Rome moments. Nowadays music festivals lure the crowds instead of chariots, but, you guessed it – what a great picnic spot that bank would make.
The retaining walls of Palatine Hill as seen from Circus Maximus.
Unearthed fragments displayed in their original layers within the Palace.
Back in time the Palatine Stadium (160m x 48m) was a garden with flowers, paths and horse exercising areas. Only important villas had gardens like these, with their fountains, sculptures and columns similar to a Greek gymnasium. Like us, the Ancient Romans strolled along the top of the walls, looking down on the garden.
Domus Augustana Lower Courtyard.
There are two viewpoints in Farnese Gardens – one overlooking the Forum and the other to the dome of St. Peters.
Beneath the Orange Trees in the Palatine’s Farnese Gardens.
When you’re amongst the crowds in the Forum, or the Colosseum for that matter, it’s difficult to see the big picture of Ancient Rome, but it quickly comes into focus when looking down onto it. The Palatine has to be the best view point in all of Rome.
Part of the Forum with Colosseum to the right.
Views also extend to the white marble Il Vittoriano with it’s Horse and Chariot statues.
We visited Rome as part of our Ten Weeks in Europe Trip 2015.
Tips before you go.
Of the three sites on the joint ticket, visit the Palatine first. If buying your ticket in person this is the least busy venue – the Entrance on Via di san Gregorio.
Cost of joint ticket – 12 Euro per adult.
Closest Metro is Colosseo.
Toilets are situated at: The Entrance; near the orange trees in Farnese Gardens; in the Museum.
There is an entrance into the Forum from within the Palatine. Walk downhill to the gate from either the Throne Room or inside the Palatine main entrance.
Use the Exit Only gate to reach the Colosseum easily from the Forum.
Please note: It is not possible to visit Palatine>Colosseum>Forum in this order, as the automatic ticket machines only admit to each section once (the Palatine and the Forum are considered to be one).
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