Italian firefighters work next to a giant hole left after a ceiling portion of Nero's Golden Palace collapsed in Rome Tuesday. ((Andrew Medichini/Associated Press) )

A ceiling portion of Nero's Golden Palace in Rome collapsed Tuesday, raising concerns once again that one of the city's most popular tourist attractions faces dangerous erosion and other structural problems.

No injuries were reported, according to Italian news media.

A large portion of the roof crumbled and caused a section of the garden over it to fall straight into the first century A.D. palace — on top of which parks, trees and roads were built over the centuries.

Nero's Golden Palace, also known as Domus Aurea, sits in a hilly area near the Colosseum, the Forum and the Circus Maximus.

Emperor Nero ordered construction of the lavish party venue after a great fire destroyed Rome. The residence garnered its name from its extravagant materials, including extensive gold leaf, marble and ivory, ceilings decorated with semi-precious jewels and sumptuous frescoes.


A rain puddle is seen inside a hallway of Nero's Golden Palace in December 2005. ((Gregoria Borgia/Associated Press))

Not long after Nero's death, however, the Golden Palace was stripped of its finery and, eventually, filled in and built over.

It was rediscovered during the 15th century, when a local man fell into a hole and landed in the remains of the structure. Over time, archeologists and restorers uncovered parts of the original residence.

Though the now-underground palace remains highly popular with tourists and visitors, it has naturally faced a myriad of structural problems over the years and was closed to the public in the late 1970s because of worries about its soundness.

Though reopened to the public in 1999, it has closed regularly for further restoration, including in 2005 after masonry crumbled and a significant amount of water began seeping inside.

Tuesday's collapse occurred during a period of repairs on the ancient palace and following a season of heavy rain.

With files from The Associated Press