Villa Adriana history, nature and beauty
An enormous historical and archaeological heritage immersed in nature.
Built between 118 and 138 AD, during the reign of Hadrian (proclaimed emperor in 117 AD), Villa Hadrian extended over an area of at least 120 hectares located on a tuff plateau between two moats, the Ferrata to the east and the Risicoli or Rocca Bruna to the west. The emperor wanted to move his residence to a green and water-rich place, so he chose the Tivoli area, 28 km from Rome, near the Tiburtini Mountains, in an area of about 40 hectares still viable today.
Literary sources tell us that Hadrian, a man of multiple talents, personally dedicated himself to the conception of the complex, and the Villa is a tangible demonstration of this, since it deviates from the architectural customs of the time. Also in Rome you can admire numerous works in this sense, such as the Temple of Venus, erected in the Forum, and the Pantheon. So also Castel Sant'Angelo was built by Hadrian, originally destined for the imperial tomb but later transformed into a papal fortress.
The Villa included residential buildings, baths, water lilies, pavilions and gardens, and the various elements were connected by surface paths and an underground road network. The richness of the architectural and sculptural decoration of Villa Adriana has attracted the attention of researchers since Renaissance times, but unfortunately it has been the subject of spoliations of marble already in medieval times, which have led to a dispersion of the decorative apparatus so large as to disperse it, not only in the main museums and collections of Rome, but in those of other cities in Italy and Europe. In 1999 Villa Adriana was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The visitable area is about 40 hectares and the visit opens with a model that reproduces the entire archaeological site, giving the idea of its vastness.
From the Pecile, the large portico that housed a garden with a long central basin, we pass to the Antinoeion, a temple built to remember the young Antinoo, for a period lover of the emperor Hadrian.
The Hall of Philosophers has seven niches that once housed the statues of the seven sages of ancient Greece. A few meters away you will find one of the most famous and representative monuments of the villa, the Maritime Theater, a sort of island with an Ionic colonnade surrounded by an artificial canal. This charming place was the refuge where the emperor Hadrian loved to retire to think.
The Canopus of Villa Hadrian is a long basin of water adorned with columns and statues that culminates with a temple topped by a cloven dome. There you can see the remains of two spas: the Grandi Terme and the Piccole Terme di Villa Adriana.
Walking through Villa Hadrian you can also admire the two Libraries, the Greek Library and the Latin Library, overlooking the garden and connected to each other by a porch, and the Imperial Palace, the original nucleus of the residence of Hadrian and his court.
At the end of the visit you will find the Greek Theatre, intended for court theatre and able to accommodate a small number of spectators, and the suggestive Nymphaeum with Temple of Venus.
Before leaving Villa Hadrian, you must visit the museum: inside there are many artifacts found in Villa Hadrian since the fifties and 4 replicas of the Caryatids of the Erechtheus of Athens, which once adorned the Canopus of the Villa.
An ideal city that combines the architectural traditions of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, Villa Adriana is an exceptional architectural complex whose visit will leave you speechless.