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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - Domus Romana

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Domus Romana

Museum Esplanade, Rabat tel: +356 21 454 125, http://www.heritagemalta.org

Monday to Sunday: 9:00-17:00 (Last admission: 16:30) Closed on Good Friday, 24th, 25th and 31st December, 1st January. Regular ticket (18 - 59 years):€6; Subsidised ticket: 12-17 years, Senior Citizens (60+), Students €4.50; Children (6 -11 years): €3.00

Children younger than 6 years of age may visit at no charge.

Multi Site Tickets: Visit all the area museums in one day and save on the admission fee. Rabat - Mdina Multi Site Ticket (Domus Romana, St Paul's Catacombs & National Museum of Natural History): Adults (18 - 59 years): €12.00; Students (12 - 17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years and over), ISIC Card Holders, EURO<26 Card Holders, ICOM Card Holders €9.00, Children (6-11 years ) Eur 6.00

 

A Brief History

Formerly known as the Roman Villa, this site was discovered during the construction of Howard Gardens in 1881. The significance of this site was soon acknowledged and the site was roofed over to provide protection to the fine mosaics. Further investigations and excavations were carried out by Temi Zammit between 1920 and 1924 when the remains of several more modest buildings were discovered. The building's imposing façade and its front garden were completed in 1925.

An extensive Muslim graveyard was discovered atop the Roman remains. Several of the tombstones with Khufic Arabic inscriptions are on display, as is a complete skeleton within a stone coffin.

 

What to See

The elegant mosaic in the building's peristyle is in an excellent state of preservation, and shows two doves perched on the rim of a water bowl. This is a recurrent theme in contemporary art, believed to have originated in the second century BC with an influential painting by Sosos of Pergamon, in modern-day Turkey. The other mosaics, not as well preserved show an allegorical representation of Autumn as a young man holding a bunch of grapes and a pomegranate; and an unclothed male, being restrained by two ladies. The mosaics here exemplify opus vermiculatum – a technique that utilises fine pieces of coloured ceramic in worm like (hence the term vermiculatum), non-linear patterns for the detailed central emblem; and opus tesselatum using larger pieces of coloured ceramicfor the more geometric, all-encompassing borders.

Other items worthy of note are a set of three marble statues, representing Emperor Claudius who ruled Rome between 41 and 54AD; his daughter Claudia Antonia and a headless statue thought to represent Nero, his adopted son and successor.

The exhibits within the building pledge to give us a peek onto everyday life in Roman times. Such exhibits include cooking utesils with a description of Roman cuisine, elaborate hairpins made of bone, terracotta masks, and a baby's rattle.

You may conclude your visit to the Domus with a panoramic view of the extensive remains behind the building.

 

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