Just beyond the Arch of Titus, the Clivus Palatinus gently rises to the heights of the Colle Palatino (Palatine Hill)—the oldest inhabited site in Rome. Despite its location overlooking the Forum's traffic and attendant noise, the Palatine was the most coveted address for ancient Rome's rich and famous. More than a few of the Twelve Caesars called the Palatine home, including Caligula, who was murdered in the still-standing and unnerving (even today) tunnel, the
Cryptoporticus. The palace of Tiberius was the first to be built here; others followed, notably the gigantic extravaganza constructed for Emperor Domitian. But perhaps the most famous lodging goes back to Rome's very beginning. Once upon a time, skeptics thought Romulus was a myth. Then, about a century ago, Rome's greatest archaeologist, Rodolfo Lanciani, excavated a site on the hill and uncovered the remains of an Iron Age settlement dating back to the 9th century BC, supporting the belief that Romulus, founder of Rome, lived here. In fall 2007, archaeologists unearthed a sacred sanctuary dedicated to Romulus and Remus set beneath the House of Augustus near the Palatine Hill. This sanctuary is now being renovated.
During the Republican era, the Palatino became the "Beverly Hills" of ancient Rome. Hortensius, Cicero, Catiline, Crassus, and Agrippa all had homes here. Augustus was born on the hill; the House of Livia, reserved for Augustus's wife, is today the hill's best-preserved structure. To visit the ruins of the Palatine (some scholars think this name gave rise to our term "palace") in roughly chronological order, start from the southeast area facing the Aventine.
Entrances at Piazza del Colosseo and Via di San Gregorio 30, Rome, 00184, Italy