Palatine Hill (in Latin: Collis Palatium or Mons Palatinus, in Italian: Palatine) is the most central of the seven hills of Rome and one of the oldest parts of the city. It has an elevation of 40 meters [1] above the Roman Forum, for which it has a view on one of its sides. On the other, it dominates the valley occupied by the Circus Maximus. From the time of Augustus, the imperial palaces of Rome began to be built there.

Its name is the etymological origin of the word “palace”, with cognates in several languages ​​(in Italian: palazzo, in French: palais, in English: palace, in German: palast, in Czech: palác).

Rome had its origins on the Palatine Hill and excavations proved that people had lived there since the 10th century BC. According to Livy, after the immigration of the Sabines and Albanians to Rome, the original Romans lived in the Palatine. During the republican period, the Palatine was seat of several cults of the old Roman religion. Particularly important were the costs of Magna Mater (Cibele), imported from Asia Minor at the time of the Second Punic War, Apollo and Vesta. The sanctuaries of the three were built by Augustus near his own residence: Magna Mater Temple, Temple of Apollo Palatine and Temple of Vesta.
San Sebastiano al Palatino and the ruins of the Heliogabálio in the foreground

During the republican period, the Palatine was home to several important members of the Roman aristocracy, including Marco Valério Voluso, consul in 505 BC, Octavio Cneu, consul in 165 BC and ancestor of Augustus, Tiberius Sempronius Graco, consul in 177 BC and father of the two famous tribunes of the Tiberius and Caio, Marco Fúlvio Flaco, consul in 125 BC, Marco Lívio Druso, tribune of the plebs in 91 BC, Cicero and his brother, Quito, Tito Ânio Milan, friend of Cicero and killer of Clodius, who possibly also lived in the Palatine, Quinto Hortênsio Hórtalo, orator whose house was bought by Augustus, the triumvirus Marco Antônio and Tiberius Claudius Nero, biological father of the emperor Tiberius. Among so many republican houses, only a few remains were recovered under the Flávio Palace, among which the House of Griffins and the Isiac Class, decorated with important frescoes.

However, the key event in the history of the Palatine was the fact that Augustus, who was born in the Palatine, had chosen the place as a residence, buying first the house of Hórtalo and then enlarging the property by annexing other neighbors: the House of Augustus was in the southwest corner of the hill and the House of Lívia, his wife, was next to. From then on, it became natural that the other emperors also resided in the Palatine. One after another, the imperial palaces of Tiberius (Tiberian Palace, enlarged by Caligula), Nero (Transitional Palace and a part of the Golden House), the Flávios (Palace Flávio and the Augustano Palace) and Seventh Severus Palace the Septizode), were built on the Palatine.

Between 375 and 379, the remains of St Cesary, deacon and martyr of Terracina, were translated, with the help of Pope Damasus I, “intro Romanum Palatium, in optimo loco, imperiali cubicolo”, possibly an enclosure in the Augustano Palace where the village Mills, now destroyed. Inside the palace was built an oratory called San Cesareo in Palatio, the first official Christian worship site built on the Palatine. The work was an obvious sign of the conversion of the Roman emperors to Christianity, since it replaced the domestic lararium of the old pagan emperors and assumed the function of a true palatine chapel. There were deposited the images that the new Roman emperors, elected in Constantinople, sent to Rome (and also to the other cities of the empire).

At the end of the imperial period, Mount Palatine was completely taken over by a single complex of imperial buildings and gardens for the exclusive use of the emperors and their court. From then on, the word “palatium” also indicated the “palace” par excellence, first to indicate the imperial residence and then, through all the European languages, the residences of kings and monarchs.

From the 16th century onwards, the Palatine Hill became the property of the Farnesian family and was occupied by the so-called “Farnese Gardens”, now partially conserved on the remains of the Tiberian Palace. At the top of the hill, between the Flávio and Augustano Palace, was established a village in the late sixteenth century known as Villa Stati Mattei, acquired around 1830 by the Scot Charles Mills, who created on the spot an incredible neogothic village. At the end of the 19th century, a convent was built in the villa, demolished from 1928 to allow excavations on the site. In the only remaining building was created the Antiquary of the Palatine, which exposes visitors to the Palatine discoveries.

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