Nero’s Golden Palace or Domus Aurea, which lies on a hill overlooking the Colosseum, was built in the first century A.D. and has been plagued with structural problems since it was opened to the public in 1999.
Workers were undertaking repairs when part of the roof collapsed, causing a section of the garden above it to fall into the palace over an area of some 100 sq metres, officials said. No injuries were reported.
Nero built his palace after the great fire of Rome in 64 A.D. 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.
Experts at the site said the part of the roof that collapsed was a segment constructed after Nero’s palace, known as Trajan’s gallery, and not normally open to the public. Emperor Trajan ruled from 98-117 A.D. and built the Trajan baths on top of the Domus Aurea.
However, Tuesday’s collapse is set to rekindle the debate about the sorry state of Rome’s eroding archaeological sites.