Domus Augustana


Italia (Pleiades)
Italia, Regio I (Pleiades)


Roma (Pleiades)


Mons Palatinus (Pleiades)


Garden of the Domus Augustana, Palatine


Garden Description


The lower peristyles of the Domus Augustana, the private area of the Flavian Palace, was sumptuously decorated with a large fountain in the shape of four peltae (semi-circular shields that were common motifs for gardens of the early imperial period), comparable to the arrangements at Conimbriga (Fig. 3). Water, which is given great space within the architecture, was included in a garden adorned with dense planting beds of shrubs and flowers, alternating with decorative elements and important sculptures. Such scenic plantings around water within an architectural setting are comparable to the later Maritime Theater at Hadrian’s Villa, which was perhaps inspired by this Flavian peristyle garden. Because of clearly articulated planting beds it is possible to reconstruct the shape of this garden as composed of alternating planting beds, basins and plants around a central fountain. The peristyle garden and fountain as well as several nearby nymphaea must have made this part of the palace, especially cool and welcoming on hot summer days.


In the upper peristyle garden in the middle of a large rectangular pool with a highly articulated edge stood a small temple on a podium (Fig. 4), which could be reached by means of a little bridge supported on arches (Fig. 5). Contiguous to this peristyle was a series of rooms with non-rectilinear plans, among which were a porticoed diaeta and water gardens. These elements lent the upper peristyle the characteristics of an idyllic-sacral space, where the plantings occupy the areas between the temple and the surrounding structures, which had open forms such as loggias, terraces, exedrae, and splendid statues and works of art (fountains, basins, herms etc.) in precious marbles.


Gardens of the Republican Domus (A)
Garden of the House of Augustus (B)
Garden of the Domus Tiberiana (C)
Garden of the Neronian Palace (D)
Garden of the Domus Flavia (E)
Garden of the Palatine Stadium (H)
Garden of the Severan Complex (I)


Plan of the Palatine

Fig. 1. Plan of the Palatine with the indication of the garden area of the Lower Peristyle (Drawing Coop. Modus. Reworking E. Boschi. Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma, henceforth abbreviated as SAR).

Plan of the Palatine

Fig. 2. Plan of the Palatine with the indication of the garden area of the Upper Peristyle (Drawing Coop. Modus. Reworking E. Boschi. Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma, henceforth abbreviated as SAR).

View of the Domus Augustana lower peristyle

Fig. 9 Domus Augustana. Lower peristyle. (Photo SAR).

View of the Domus Augustana upper peristyle

Fig. 10 Domus Augustana. Upper peristyle. (Photo SAR).

Reconstruction of the upper peristyle of the Domus Augustana

Fig. 11 Upper peristyle of the Domus Augustana: Hypothetical reconstruction. (G. de Angelis D’Ossat, 1932).


92 CE

Excavation Date



  • A. Schmölder-Veit, "Aqueducts for the Urbis Clarissimus Locus: The Palatine’s Water Supply from Republican to Imperial Times," in K. Wentworth Rinne, ed., Aquae Urbis Romae: The Waters of the City of Rome, 7 (Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia, 2011): 1-27. (worldcat) ("Aqueducts") (worldcat) ("Waters")
  • N. Sojc (Hrsg), Domus Augustana. Neue Forschungen zum “ Versenkten Peristyl” auf dem Palatin; Investigating the “ Sunken Peristyle” on the Palatine Hill, Leiden 2012 (worldcat)
  • A. Platner-Ashby, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, London: Oxford, 1929: 158-166.(worldcat)

Pleiades ID

Palatine Hill (Pleiades)


M.-A. Tomei



Publication date

21 Apr 2021