To mark the 500-year anniversary of Raphael's death, the Domus Aurea will host a display dedicated to the grotesque.
To avoid any confusion, Raphael himself was actually quite a handsome fellow, judging by his Self-portrait (1504). No, this exhibition concerns the fantastical human and animal depictions stumbled upon inside the forgotten ruins of Nero's Golden House in the late 15th century, known as grotesque art.
This exhibition allows you to explore the lost palace and retrace the footsteps of the people who rediscovered it, unlocking its ancient masterpieces. Raphael would go on to replicate these fascinating painted walls in the Vatican, and scores of painters have taken inspiration from their unique style over the centuries. Now, you can too, thanks to to-scale reproductions, multimedia tools, and interactive elements.
Enter the Domus Aurea, or Golden House, designed purely for pleasure by Emperor Nero, a man famous for jaw-dropping acts of self-indulgence. Learn the history of what must have been one of the most aesthetically overwhelming buildings ever created, once home to luxuries like mosaics, marble furnishings, and even a rotating dining room!
In the 15th century, one unsuspecting man slipped through a crack in the hillside and fell into a secret underground chamber. Generally, this would be a bad thing. Luckily for him though, he wound up in the deranged Emperor Nero's resplendent home, hidden underground for centuries. Who knew if anyone would have found it otherwise?!
Before long, local artists and prominent European figures like Michelangelo, Casanova, and the Marquis de Sade followed, until the intricate frescoes, ceilings and vaults were no longer such a secret.
Now an active archeological site, you'll still get a taste for what this place once looked like when you enter with your guide. Sniff around and find out what happened within these very walls!
In its heyday you would have seen ivory walls, fine marble fittings, ceilings plastered with intricate mosaics, and artificial lakes. There was even a revolving dining room that blessed guests with drops of perfume and rose petals!
Tickets for Domus Aurea - Nero's Golden House: Skip The Line