The Palaces of Rome

Course summary

The Palaces of Rome


Rome, the Eternal City, has an unparalleled wealth of imperial, ecclesiastical and noble palaces, and this course will examine the development of that great heritage. We begin with a study of the imperial residences on the Palatine Hill, including Nero’s famous Domus Aurea, and then examine the architectural experiments of the builder-Emperor, Hadrian, at Tivoli.  By the early fifteenth century, however, Rome was in serious decline and the palace took on a new role at the heart of papal plans for the regeneration of the city leading to major developments in architectural styles and interior design.  By the sixteenth century High Renaissance, innovative architects such as Bramante, Michelangelo, and Raphael were experimenting with the classicizing style to please their wealthy and demanding patrons with impressive residences filled with art treasures.  Finally, we study the age of the Grand Tour, when these magnificent homes were constantly en fête as the jeunesse dorée from all over Europe descended upon Rome to complete their education and acquire a social polish. This is a course for all who love the Eternal City and wish to explore it further.   


Programme details



From 11.00am – 12.30pm

Coffee/tea is provided in the Common Room before each lecture, from 10.30am

10.30am Registration (first week only 26 April in Rewley House Reception)


26 April

The imperial palace: the Palatine and Tivoli


3 May

The changing function of the palace in early Renaissance Rome


10 May

The splendours of the High Renaissance palace


17 May

The Roman palace in the Age of the Grand Tour



Recommended reading


Bajard, S. and R. Bencini, Rome: Palaces and Gardens (Paris, 1997).

Cresti, C. and C. Redina, Palazzi of Rome (Cologne, 2005).

Vincenti, C., F. Benzi and R. Schezen, Palaces of Rome (London, 1997).


Tuition (includes coffee/tea): £75.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses



Dr Diana Matthews

Course Tutor

Diana Matthews teaches regularly for Oxford University’s Continuing Education Department. Her doctoral thesis was on the architecture of Renaissance Rome, and she has lectured widely on many aspects of the Eternal city.

Dr Catherine Oakes

Director of Studies

Dr Cathy Oakes is Director of Studies for the History of Art, OUDCE. 


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.