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The Domus Aurea was not a place for sleeping, because Nero had other lodgings for that. He filled the Domus Aurea with his collection of classical Greek sculpture and other treasures. Described by Pliny the Elder, Nero built the Domus Aurea of bricks and stucco, lavishly embellished it with gold-leaf decoration and ivory veneer and studded the ceilings with semi-previous stones. It covered 350 acres, roughly a third of Rome, spanning four of the Seven Hills of Rome in the heart of the city.

The grounds of the Domus Aurea featured villas, vineyards, forests, a sacred grove, pastures for livestock, and an artificial lake. Nero erected a 120 foot bronze statue of himself in the center dressed as the sun god, Sol, his Colossus Neronis. The Colossus would be the sole survivor of Nero's Domus Aurea. In 68 A.D. the Roman Senate declared Nero an enemy of the state, a death sentence, and the emperor committed suicide.

Following his death, the lake was drained, the Colosseum constructed where it stood, and Nero's colossal head was decapitated from the Neronis and replaced with the heads of succeeding emperors. Said to be an embarrassment to the city because of Nero's excesses, the Golden House was denuded of its decorations within ten years, and subsequently buried beneath new construction within forty years. That would seem to be the end of Nero's Domus Aurea, but something strange happened to bring it back to life at the end of the fifteenth century.

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