Hadrian's Villa

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Image:Canopus vanaf serapium.jpg
The villa's recreation of Canopus, a resort near Alexandria, as seen from the temple of Serapis
Image:TragicComicMasksHadriansVillamosaic.jpg
Theatrical masks of Tragedy and Comedy in refined mosaic, from the villa (Capitoline Museum, Rome)

The Villa of the Emperor Hadrian (or Villa Adriana in Italian) at Tivoli, Italy, even in ruined condition is one of the most spectacular Roman gardens of which it is possible still to get a sense by visiting the site.

"Walking around it today, it is still possible to experience something of the variety of architectural forms and settings, and the skillful way in which Hadrian and his architect have contrived the meetings of the axes, the surprises that await the turning of a corner, and the vistas that open to view."
- Sir Banister Fletcher in his "History of Architecture"

Contents

[edit] History

The villa was created at Tibur (modern-day Tivoli) as a retreat from Rome for Emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century. Hadrian was said to dislike the palace on the Palatine Hill in Rome, leading to the construction of the retreat. During the later years of his reign, he actually governed the empire from the villa. A large court therefore lived there permanently. A postal service connected them to Rome.

After Hadrian the villa was used by his various successors. During the Decline of the Roman Empire the villa fell in to disuse and was partially ruined. In the 16th century Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este had much of the marble and statues in Hadrian's villa removed to decorate his own Villa d'Este located nearby.

[edit] Structure and architecture

Hadrian's villa was a complex of over 30 buildings, covering an area of at least 1 square kilometre (c. 250 acres) of which much is still unexcavated. The villa was the greatest Roman example of an Alexandrian garden, recreating a sacred landscape. The complex included palaces, several thermae, theatre, temples, libraries, state rooms and quarters for courtiers, praetorians and slaves.

The Villa shows echoes of many different architectural orders, mostly Greek and Egyptian. Hadrian, a very well travelled emperor borrowed these designs, such as the caryatids by the Canopus, along with the statues beside them depicting the Egyptian dwarf and fertility god, Bes. A Greek so called "Maritime Theatre" exhibits classical ionic style, whereas the domes of the main buildings as well as the corinthian arches of the Canopus and Serapeum show clear Roman architecture. Hadrian's biography states that areas in the villa were named after places Hadrian saw during his travels. Only a few places mentioned in the biography can be accurately correlated with the present-day ruins.

One of the most striking and best preserved parts of the Villa are a pool and an artificial grotto which were named Canopus and Serapeum, respectively. Canopus was an Egyptian city where a temple (Serapeum) was dedicated to the god Serapis. However, the architecture is Greek influenced (typical in Roman architecture of the High and Late Empire) as seen in the Corinthian columns and the copies of famous Greek statues that surround the pool. One anecdote involves Serapeum and its peculiarly-shaped dome. A prominent architect of the day, Apollodorus of Damascus, dismisses Hadrian's designs, comparing the dome on Serapeum to a "pumpkin". The full quote is "Go away and draw your pumpkins. You know nothing about these [architectural] matters." Once Hadrian became emperor, Apollodorus was exiled and later put to death.

An interesting structure in the Villa is the so-called "Maritime Theatre". It consists of a round portico with a barrel vault supported by pillars. Inside the portico was a ring-shaped pool with a central island. During the ancient times the island was connected to the portico by two drawbridges. On the island sits a small Roman house complete with an atrium, a library, a triclinium and small baths. The area was probably used by the emperor as a retreat from the busy life at the court.

The villa utilises numerous architectural styles and innovations. The area has an extensive network of underground tunnels. The tunnels were mostly used to transport servants and goods from one area to another. The paths and roads above ground were reserved for more high-ranking residents of the Villa. Domes and barrel vaults are used extensively. The domes of the steam baths have circular holes on the apex to allow steam to escape. This is reminescent of the Pantheon, also built by Hadrian.

Many beautiful artifacts have been unearthed and restored at the Villa, such as marble statues of Antinous, Hadrian's deified lover, accidentally drowned in Egypt, and mosaics from the theatre and baths. Many copies of Greek statues (ie. the Wounded Amazon) have been found, and even Egyptian-style interpretations of Roman gods and vice versa. Most of these have been taken to Rome for preservation and restoration, and can be seen at the Musei Capitolini or the Musei Vaticani.

[edit] Present-day significance

Hadrian's Villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and important cultural and archaeological site. It is also a major tourist destination along with the nearby Villa d'Este and the town of Tivoli.

[edit] External links


Coordinates: 41°56′31″N, 12°46′31″Ecs:Hadrianova vila de:Villa Adriana fr:Villa Adriana it:Villa Adriana nl:Villa Adriana ja:ヴィッラ・アドリアーナ (ティヴォリ) no:Villa Adriana fi:Villa Adriana sv:Hadrianus villa

Hadrian's Villa

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