Archaeologists Have Discovered Nero’s Lost Theatre Under a Hotel in Rome

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Oct 24, 2023

When construction began in 2020 on the newest Four Seasons hotel in Rome, Italy, an incredible discovery was made. Emperor Nero’s theater, which was once only a myth, has been found below the city. 

Emperor Nero’s theater was described in detail in several Roman texts of the time, but until now, archeologists had yet to find it in the city. 

Who Was Emperor Nero?

Nero is one of the most well-known Roman emperors, though his reputation is anything but glowing. In fact, Nero is most famous for ruthlessly persecuting Christians of the time, including the apostles Peter and Paul. 


Source: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

According to sources from the time, he had an all-too-intimate relationship with his mother and then, later, had her murdered. Nero is also said to have killed two of his wives. 


Nero: Anarchist or Artist?

Many believe that Nero was even responsible for the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE, and texts say that he apparently played the fiddle while his city and its residents burned in the flames. 


Source: National Geographic

However, while most historians agree that Nero was not a benevolent or beloved leader, he did have an immense love for the arts and built Rome an incredible theater where impressive performances took place. 

Sources Describe Nero’s Theater in Great Detail

Nero’s theater, where he and various other performers would play musical instruments and recite poetry, was described in extreme detail by authors such as Pliny the Elder. 


Source: Wanted in Rome

In their writings, it was said that the theater was located near the Tiber River, though the exact location has been a mystery to historians and archeologists for centuries. 

Nero’s Theater: No Longer a Myth

In 2020, when construction began for a new Four Seasons hotel in Rome, builders immediately stopped when they realized they had dug up an ancient site underneath the walled garden of the Palazzo della Rovere. 


Source: The Jerusalem Post

And when archeologists arrived on the scene, after some research, they quickly realized they had found none other than Nero’s mythical theater. 

How Do Archeologists Know it’s Nero’s Theater?

In addition to the location of the site, archeologists found marble columns decorated in gold leaves, which led them to believe that this was, in fact, Nero’s theater, as the exact columns they found were described in Pliny the Elder.

Source: AncientOrigins

Chief archaeologist Marzia Di Mento told the media, “It is a superb dig, one that every archaeologist dreams of. Being able to dig in this built-up, historically rich area is so rare.”


Archeologists Are Extremely Excited About the Artifacts

Of course, the site itself is wildly exciting, but archeologists are also enthralled by the many ancient artifacts they found inside. 

Source: Hyperallergic

They have found seven 10th-century colored glass chalices, of which there are only seven others in existence. They also encountered bone tools, urns, clay pots, cooking containers, and musical instruments. 


Where Will the Important Artifacts Be Displayed?

Lovers of Roman history will be thrilled to know that any removable artifacts, such as the chalices, urns, instruments, and various other findings, will be available for viewing. 

Source: PHYS.ORG

They are to be put on display at a “city-run public databank to add to the wealth of information gathered over the years on life in Rome throughout the centuries,” according to ABC News.  


Visitors to the Vatican’s 2025 Jubilee Can Visit Nero’s Theater

Archeologists are hoping to complete their dig by the Vatican’s 2025 Jubilee, during which an expected 30 million Catholics from around the world will come to the city to celebrate. 

Source: Aleteia

And according to an ancient Vatican chivalric order, Nero’s theater will be accessible for the public to visit. All money collected from ticket sales will be donated to Christians in the Holy Land around the world. 


Four Seasons Construction Will Continue as Planned

Although the amazing ancient theater will be preserved as it was found and be available to visitors, the Four Seasons will continue construction of the new hotel as planned. 

Source: AFAR

Because the site is technically in the garden of the hotel, Nero’s theater will be within the walls of the Four Seasons, so hotel guests and everyone else who wants to admire this incredible archeological find can enjoy it.