On the night of July 18, in the year 64 A.D., began one of the most devastating events in Imperial Rome. A man-made fire overtook the Eternal City's commercial zone, near Circo Massimo, and quickly spread across several neighborhoods.
The cause for what is now known as the Great Fire of Rome remains unclear to this day. Historians uncovered contradictory witness accounts. Popular theories blame Emperor Nero, citing a fit of madness. But most historians agree the Emperor likely wasn't in Rome at the time.
Some accounts claim it was an accident. According to others, Nero blamed Christians, in order to justify their persecution.
The Great Fire burned for over six days, before residents were able to bring it under control. The number of victims is unclear, but estimated in the thousands. The blaze also displaced some 200,000 residents. In all, about 4,000 residential buildings and more than 132 villas were destroyed.