Discovering Palatine Hill in Rome

According to Roman mythology, Palantine Hill is said to be the historical starting point of Rome in 753 BC. This, or the “Lupercal” cave, as it is known is where two baby children “Romulus and Remus” were cared for and protected by the she-wolf that fed them on her milk. As legend has it, the two boys were found and taken in by a local shepherd and his wife and they went on to kill their great-uncle who seized the throne from their father, and decided to build a city together on the banks of the River Tiber. Romulus and Remus had a violent argument and in a fit of anger, Romulus killed Remus, giving Rome its name.

Palastine Hill was certainly at the centre of the Roman world, and this meant that it was frequented by some of Rome’s most affluent citizens. Livia (58 BC – 29) the wife of Augustus is said to have had a villa here, which is currently undergoing excavation. In January 2007 Italian archeologist Irene Iacopi announced that she had probably found the legendary Lupercal cave beneath the remains of Augustus’ residence, the Domus Livia (House of Livia). Archaeologists came across the 16-metre-deep cavity while working to restore the decaying palace. The first photos of the cave show a richly decorated vault encrusted with mosaics and seashells. The Lupercal was probably converted to a sanctuary by Romans in later centuries.

Because so much of the hill is an excavation site, the best look at what the hill may have been like comes via the Palatine Antiquarium Museum, located on top of Domitian’s Palace. In the museum’s nine rooms, you’ll find ceramics, frescoes, mosaics, inscriptions, sculptures and portrait heads actually found on the hill.

After getting up early in your Rome accommodation, this is the perfect day out because at the north-west end of the Palatine Hill are the ruins of the palace of Tiberius (aka palace of Caligula), built in the 1st century AD, now known as the Farnese Gardens. Not much was left of the Palace, and thus, when Cardinal Allessandro Farnese acquired the area in 1550, he decided to fill in the ruins and build a garden on top of it. It was the first botanical garden in Europe, featuring many rare plants. This means you can visit Palantine Hill in the morning, have a pic nic break and carry on in the afternoon!

You will find that Rome apartments and Rome hotels are nearby to Palantine Hill and the entrances are at Piazza di S. Maria Nova (Arch of Titus) and Via di S. Gregorio 30. The hill is open daily with the same hours as the Colosseum and costs € 9.00; including admission to Colosseum and Palatine Museum. Take the metro Line B: Colosseo, or bus 87,60,75,85,175,271,571-TRAM 3, or a 5-minute walk from Piazza Venezia.

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