Sec­tion of ceil­ing falls at em­peror’s gallery

The Kansas City Star (Sunday) - - WORLD WATCH - By ALESSAN­DRA RIZZO

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.

AN­DREW MEDICHINI | THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Fire­fight­ers on Tues­day sur­veyed the dam­age to part of a com­plex that in­cludes Nero’s Golden Palace in Rome.

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