Explore Ancient Ruins and Artifacts at the Palatine Museum in Rome
Located 40 meters above the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill is referred to as the nucleus of the Roman Empire. The centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome overlooks the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and Capitol Hill on one side and the Circus Maximus stadium on the other. It is also home to the Palatine Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of artifacts dating back to the Middle Paleolithic era. Read on to know more about why you should visit the museum and how you can make the most of it while on your trip to Rome.
Why You Should Visit the Palatine Museum?
- Take a walk in the Paleolithic era: The museum is home to a fascinating collection of ancient finds from Palatine Hill that date back to the Middle Palaeolithic era.
- Discover ancient artifacts: It consists of ancient Roman artifacts, sculptures, frescoes, mosaics, and remains of palaces and villas.
- See how the Roman Empire lived: Get a glimpse of the Roman Empire through exhibits from the first to the fourth centuries AD.
- Explore long-lost artworks: Marvel at objects and artworks from the Iron Age tombs and Imperial buildings.
- Take a look at the remains of ancient Rome: Gasp at the archaeological ruins of The Stadium of Domitian, the House of Livia, and The House of Augustus.
Where is the Palatine Museum?
Located just above the Roman Forum on Palatine Hill in the center of the city, the Palatine Museum is easily accessible through public transport. You can reach the museum via the metro, bus, or tram.
The closest metro station is Colosseo along Line B. The museum is just a two-minute walk from there. If you are taking the tram, get on tram number 3 and get off at Colosseo. Bus numbers 60, 75, 84, 85, 87, 117, 175, 186, 271, 571, 810, and 850 stop at Colosseo, in case you plan on traveling by bus.
History of the Palatine Museum
The first Palatine Museum was built in the late 19th century by Pietro Rosa on the ground floor of the Farnese building on Palatine Hill. The museum was home to sculptures found on the hill during Napoleon III’s reign. In 1882, Rodolfo Lanciani demolished the building to form a connection between the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill while Gherardo Ghirardini transferred the museum’s objects to the Museum of the Baths of Diocletian.
Italian archaeologist Alfonso Bartoli constructed a new site in 1868 on the remains of the razed Villa Mills. He transferred the sculptures and other objects from the Museum of the Baths of Diocletian (which, by then, had begun to be called the National Roman Museum) to this building, which was originally called the Monastery of the Visitation. Alfonso discovered and collected objects and artifacts found on the excavation site of Domus Augustana and exhibited them here.
However, the holdings of the museum were moved again during the Second World War and housed in the National Roman Museum. But only a small portion of the collections was returned because the museum wanted to display the beautiful works justifying the decision with the fact that tourists are more interested in seeing the ruins on Palatine Hill than the museum. Therefore, Palatine Museum is now home only to objects and artifacts directly associated with the history of Palatine Hill. The National Roman Museum was reorganized after the passing of a law on the archaeological heritage of Rome in 1981 following which sculptures belonging to Palatine Museum were returned to their rightful owners.
Palatine Museum Collection
Palatine Museum is spread over two floors with four rooms on each floor. The collection represents the history of the Palatine from its origins to the Republican and Imperial eras.
Rooms I to III
Rooms I to III on the ground floor are home to stone objects indicating the presence of humans from the middle to the upper Palaeolithic eras. There are also remnants of huts dating back to the 8th century BC, locally made vases and impasto utensils, an infantile tomb from the 7th century BC, and several other discoveries made on the Palatine from the Republican era.
Room IV consists of works dating back to the Archaic and Republican eras. It houses an altar from the Silla period dedicated “to a god or goddess” – a technique to hide the enemies from the real identity of the god or goddess the altar was dedicated to. Several antefixes made of polychrome terracotta dating back to different eras can also be found in this room. They represent Jupiter, Apollo, and Juno Sospita.
Marvel at the beautiful works displayed in this room from the time of Emperor Augustus. An eclectic statue of God Hermes created by Greek sculptors Lysippus and Polykleitos as well as a bronze statue of a victorious athlete commissioned by Emperor Octavian following the Battle of Actium find a place of pride in this room. It also houses a few antefixes and bas-relief plaques that attest to the use of terracotta. The room also contains a fresco excavated in 1950 representing God Apollo seated on a throne with a crown on his head.
This room comprises several decorations and paintings created in the traditional Opus Sectile style from the Domus Transitoria, the first palace of Roman Emperor Nero that was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD and later extended by the most famous Domus Flavia.
Rooms VII & VIII
These two rooms exhibit a wide selection of works representing the history of Rome from the age of Julius-Claudius up until the Tetrarchy. Admire several stunning portraits of Roman emperors including Nero, Agrippina, Minore, Adriano, Marcus Aurelius, Antoninus Pius, and Hadrian, among others. Also, find the famous Alexamenos graffito dating back to the 3rd century AD that represents two figures – one with the head of a crucified donkey and the other with a raised arm. There is a Greek inscription in the middle that reads “Alexamenus venerates God”.
Room IX (The Gallery)
Finally, the ninth room, or the gallery of the museum, is a long tunnel that is home to several Roman copies of Greek statues – all of which have been taken from the imperial palaces of the Palatine.
Palatine Museum Today
Spread over two floors, Palatine Museum consists of four rooms dedicated to objects from the Republican and Imperial eras. The museum narrates the history of Palatine Hill dating back to the Middle Palaeolithic era. The ground floor consists of stone objects, remnants of a village of huts, an altar from the Silla period, vases, impasto utensils, and many antefixes in polychrome terracotta. The first floor comprises beautiful mosaics, intricate paintings, portraits, and marble statues.
- Wear comfortable footwear because you’ll have to walk along rough terrain quite a bit.
- Palatine Hill is not recommended for those with reduced mobility due to the rough terrain. However, the museum is wheelchair friendly and accessible to people with disabilities.
- You’ll find archaeological ruins both indoors and outdoors, which is why it is recommended that you visit during the day.
- Avoid carrying large backpacks and bags because you won’t be allowed to carry them into the museum.
- Don’t forget to carry your camera because the hill offers breathtaking views of the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and other important landmarks.
- Drinking water facilities and restrooms are available near the Palatine Museum in case you need to use them.
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Frequently Asked Questions About the Palatine Museum
A. Yes. You can visit the Palatine Museum.
A. Yes. The Palatine Museum is open to visitors.
A. Palatine Museum is located on Palatine Hill in Rome.
A. Palatine Museum is home to frescoes, sculptures, artifacts, and other archaeological objects discovered during excavations on Palatine Hill.
A. Admire objects depicting the history of Palatine Hill from the Republican and Imperial eras. Marvel at the various frescoes, sculptures, and paintings dating back to the Middle Palaeolithic era.
A. The Palatine Museum is easily accessible through public transport – metro, bus, or tram. Get off at the Colosseo stop. The museum is a two-minute walk from there. Click here for directions to the Colosseum.
A. Yes. The Palatine Museum is worth visiting because it consists of objects and artifacts dedicated to the Palatine and its rich history.
A. Find a wide selection of paintings, decorations, frescoes, an altar from the Silla period, sculptures, statues, traces of a village of huts, and more.
A. Tickets to go inside Palatine Museum cost €21 and upwards.
A. No. You cannot enter the museum for free. You will have to purchase a ticket. Click here to book a spot.
A. Palatine Hill is open from 10:30 AM to 7:15 PM every day. The last entry is at 6:15 PM. It remains closed on January 1 and December 25.
A. You can visit the Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona, among other attractions.