Part of Nero’s Golden Palace, a popular tourist site in Rome, has collapsed.
A large piece of the vault ceiling, which topped one of the corridors linking the many halls and chambers of the sprawling complex, crumbled and fell to the ground – possibly because of water seepage. No-one was injured.
The city’s, Mayor, Gianni Alemanno, said he was very worried, and ordered an investigation to determine the exact cause of the collapse. The site, which is situated in central Rome not far from the Colosseum, was cordoned off as sand bags were placed to support the remaining parts of the corridor’s walls.
Nero built his ornate palace, the Domus Aurea, after the great fire of Rome in 64 A.D. to use as a party villa rather than a residence. Covered in part by gold leaf, it also had walls decorated with semi-precious stones and frescoes.
The incident has raised fresh concern about the state of one of Rome’s most prized archaeological treasures. It was closed in late 2005 for more than a year after the culture ministry said it couldn’t guarantee the safety of visitors and staff.
The site superintendent, Luciano Marchetti, said the collapse needed to be seen as a warning – more finance for the site’s upkeep was urgently needed.
by Andy Moreton
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