Section of ceiling falls at emperor’s gallery
A huge chunk of a 2,000-year-old gallery in the complex including Emperor Nero’s Golden Palace collapsed Tuesday, art officials said.
Firefighters searched the area but found no victims. Nero’s nearby palace had been closed while repairs were under way.
The palace was built by Nero in the first century. With its frescoed halls and gold-encrusted ceilings, it was meant as a fabled residence for one of Rome’s most depraved emperors.
About 800 square feet of vault ceiling in one of the galleries crumpled beneath a garden frequented by tourists and passers-by.
The main part of the palace was unscathed, but there was damage also to another gallery built after Nero by Emperor Hadrian.
The incident rekindled doubts over the stability of the site, which was shut down for 18 years until 1999 over structural concerns, which still at times force temporary closures. Water infiltration is another problem.
The palace originally sprawled across nearly 200 acres and occupied parts of four of Rome’s seven ancient hills.
Nero did not enjoy it for very long, as it was completed in A.D. 68, the same year he committed suicide.
For centuries the complex lay under a hill before coming to light 500 years ago when Renaissance scholars began researching the imperial period.
Officials pledged to begin restoring the palace this week, and estimated it would cost $1 million and take one year.
Firefighters on Tuesday surveyed the damage to part of a complex that includes Nero’s Golden Palace in Rome.