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The Magnificent Hadrian’s Villa

The Hadrian’s Villa, a journey into Ancient Rome history.

Hadrian’s Villa is located in Tivoli, about 28 kilometers far away from Rome. It was built by Emperor Hadrian between 118 and 138 AD and it covers a total of 120 hectares. In 1999 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO; the area can be visited at the moment covers about 40 hectares. The Villa is a residential complex monument that still shows the grandeur of imperial Rome. It is made up of several buildings all linked together, more original than the domus and traditional villas.

Hadrian's Villa

Each area of the entire villa plays a very precise function: the nymph stage, the building with three exedras, the building with the fishpond connected with the portico, and the thermal baths. The Canopus is one of the most beautiful spots of Villa Adriana and presents a large basin of water decorated with statues and columns that ends with an imperial triclinium in which parties and banquets were held. There are also two ancient “spas” of which you can admire the well-preserved remains, respectively, the Great Baths and the Small Baths.

Walking in the immense space of Hadrian’s Villa, will give you the feeling of stepping back in time and experience the history of Rome in all its splendor, surrounded by nature, adorned by the wonderful ruins. Among the first buildings of the Villa we have the Maritime Theatre, perhaps the first residence of the Emperor Hadrian in this place. The complex structure of the Villa, on the one hand reflects the multi-faceted personality of Hadrian, on the other is due to the fact that it perform various functions. All this shows the spirit of innovation in the field of architecture and the desire to manifest the magnificence of Ancient Rome.

There are a lot of tributes to Greece and Egypt, in fact you will find several replicas of monuments that Hadrian had wanted to highlight these cultures, that had severely affected and influenced him during his travels. After Hadrian’s death, which occurred in 138 AD, the Villa continued to be part of the assets of the Imperial House. Subsequently it suffered a decline and its marbles were used in many buildings and medieval churches. At the beginning of the XVII century much of the Villa was acquired by the House Conte who began a campaign of excavations and adorned it with cypresses and vines. After the unification of Italy, the house passed to the State government. In Tivoli as well, few kilometers far from Hadrian’s Villa, you can visit a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance: Villa D’Este.

photos by Enzo Lofrano