There are two new sites to visit in Rome this year – the Scala Sancta, the sacred staircase brought to Rome which Jesus is said to have walked up as he carried the cross; and also Nero’s Domus Transitoria, the emperor’s first palace which burned to the ground.
The Scala Sancta was brought to Rome from Jerusalem and is thought to be part of Pontius Pilate’s palace. The staircase is located in a palace opposite St John the Lateran in Piazza San Giovanni and will be open temporarily until 9 June. The Holy Staircase was covered up for 300 years by Pope Innocent XIII to protect it from wear and tear. It is thought that the mother of the Emperor Constantine, Helena, ordered the staircase to be brought to Rome – Constantine introduced Christianity into the Roman Empire.
There are three crosses embedded in the staircase and markings which are thought to be Christ’s blood. It has long been a site of pilgrimage and is being opened to mark the Easter period in the church calendar and Christ’s death on the cross.
Nero’s first palace was burned to the ground by the Great Fire of Rome in 64AD and was replaced by the Domus Aurea. It is thought Nero might have actually started the Great Fire of Rome. The Domus Transitoria was intended as a connecting building, hence the name. The palace walls are thought to have been made from brick and marble and were frescoed and decorated with gemstones. It received much criticism when it was built because of its extravagance. Tourists can now venture down to see the remains of the palace and some of the beautiful decoration that remains. See the blog Walk Rome: Termini to Trastevere for details of how to get there.
WALK ROME GUIDES
Download the other WALK ROME guides and the Campus Martius blog to find your way round Rome and make the most of your vacation!
Featured image: Domus Aurea