Hadrian’s Villa

More a mini city than a villa, this complex lies in Tivoli, ancient Tibur, about 25 km (16 miles) outside Rome.  Built in stages between around 118 and 138 AD, it allowed Emperor Hadrian the freedom to indulge his own architectural experiments and develop influences from his travels across the Empire, in particular to Greece and Egypt. The villa was used by Hadrian’s successors sporadically and fell into disuse, only to be properly excavated after the Second World War. Despite that, even today, according to our guide, there are parts of the complex that visitors don’t get to see as they are the home of a local family.

Unlike its near neighbour the Villa d’Este, this is quite a flat site incorporating elements such as bath complexes, temples, soldiers’ quarters, theatre, living quarters, underground tunnels and – perhaps most famously – the Canopus designed by Hadrian to commemorate his lost love, Antinous.

The visitor first meets this beautifully executed model, showing how the whole complex would have looked in antiquity.

   

Entry to the site proper Is through this still impressive wall…

to the Pecile (or Poikile); a pool that’s supposed to represent a colonnaded  structure that would have provided storage and been the home of the villa’s slaves (the so-called hundred rooms).
 P1030390

Two bath complexes are in evidence: one small (apparently easier to heat) for the emperor and nobles and another larger complex for the many slaves who would have ensured smooth running of the whole complex.

P1030409

Despite the passage of time, there are remnants of the decorative styles that would have been on display here.

P1030419

P1030389

The Canopus is designed to reference that part of the Nile where Antinous met his death, and it is faced by a Serapeum (temple to the god Serapis). Greek style statues including caryatids line the poolside walk, and there’s even a crocodile as a nod to Egypt.

            IMG_1867-0  

A much quieter site than anything we experienced in Rome itself, this is definitely a very special location that anyone interested in Roman history and architecture would enjoy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s