The Colle Oppio Park is located on a hill north of the Colosseum in Rome. Main attractions are the underground ruins of Nero’s Domus Aurea and the ones of the Baths of Trajan above ground. From the hill you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Colosseum itself. The name of the northern part of the park is officially Parco di Traiano, although nobody ever calls it that.
Colle Oppio Park Rome
History and description
The Colle Oppio hill, the Colle Cispio and the Colle Fagutale used to be the three hills forming what is now known as the Colle Esquilino.
The most important ruins in the Colle Oppio Park are those of Nero‘s Domus Aurea (“Golden House”). After having been closed for a long time, it is possible again to visit the monument, but only as a member of a guided tour. Booking is mandatory. What little is visible of the exterior is not very interesting.
Other ruins are those of the Terme di Traiano and of the Terme di Tito. An impressive exedra belonging to the former can be found on the south side of the park, near the children’s playground. Trajan’s Baths were constructed in the year 110, by the famous architect Apollodoro.
The park houses both a, rather badly maintained, children’s playground and a small outdoor cafe/kiosk.
The park is crossed by a number of lanes and paths. Apart from the Viale della Domus Aurea, these seem to be rather randomly named.
The Viale Fortunato Mizzi runs straight through the park, connecting the Via delle Terme di Traiano to the Via Labicana. Mizzi was an early 20th century Maltese statesman.
The Viale Eulero is named after the 18th century Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler.
The Via Serapide connects the Viale della Domus Aurea to the Viale Fortunato Mizzi. Serapide was an Egyptian Goddess, whose cult used to be important in ancient Rome. Near what is now the Piazza Colonna, there used to be a temple in her honour.
The Viale della Domus Aurea connects the Via della Domus Aurea to the Piazza del Colosseo.
The Via Tommaso Grossi is named for a 19th century writer. It connects the Viale della Domus Aurea to a staircase leading down to the Via Labicana.
In the heyday of the Roman Empire, the Colle Oppio was densely populated. The wealthier part of the population had taken possession of the hilltop, while the ordinary citizens had to make to with houses on its slopes.
In 64 AD, after a fire that destroyed a big part of Rome, Nero had his Domus Aurea built on the Colle Oppio.
After Nero‘s death, this Domus Aurea reused as a foundation for the Baths of Trajan and the Baths of Titus.
During the Middle Ages, the area it began to be used as a (vegetable) garden.
In 1871, when Rome became the capital of Italy, Colle Oppio was made into a public park. Its current layout is due to the interference of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, however.
The first part of the park, on the side of the Via Labicana and the Via Mecenate, was designed between 1928 and 1932 by the architect Raffaele de Vico. The higher part was taken care of several years later (1935-1936) by Antonio Muñoz.
The park was completely restored in 2020.
The Parco di Colle Oppio has four entrances. Two of these are on the Via Labicana. The other two Viale del Monte Oppio and Via Mecenate. Opening hours: sunrise to sunset. In reality, the entrances are decorative more than anything else, since the park is completely open on the Via delle Sette Sale side. Public transportation: Bus: 53, 85, 87, 117, 571, n11. It is generally better to avoid the park after dark.
The Colle Oppio probably owes its name to one Opiter Oppius who took up the defense of Rome while Tullo Ostilio, attacked the town of Veio.
Cisterna delle Sette Sale
The complex across the parking lot at the southern entrance to the park got the name Cisterna delle Sette Sale in the 18th century, when only 7 of its 9 halls had been discovered. It should really have been renamed Cisterna delle Nove Sale at that point but the original name stuck.