Roman Ruins of Hadrian's Villa - Italy - 4K with Captions
Welcome to Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, Italy. Hadrian's Villa is an UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising the ruins and archaeological remains of a large villa complex built in AD 120 by Roman Emperor Hadrian Inside this small building is a scale model of the villa but they only allow two people in at a time due to Covid. This walk begins at the Pecile, what was once a four-sided covered portico, which delimited a garden with a large central swimming pool. While lost today, the garden was surrounded by high walls of the colonnaded portico, equipped with large windows that allowed the view on the panorama. The Laurel plants, which are cylindrical in shape, represent where columns once stood that held up the covered portico.
The main purpose of this covered area was to provide Emperor Hadrian with an area to walk at all times of the year and in all types of weather. Along with the baths and library on the far end, this whole area served as a type gymnasium for the emperor. Below this flat terrace are 4 stories of rooms known as the Centocamerelle (Hundred Chambers), which were most likely the residential quarters for the servants. You can see the rooms all along the border of the Pecile. The Antinomian was a temple complex which gets its name from a masonry foundation that may be connected to the famous obelisk of Antinous at Rome. The building may have been the actual tomb of Antinous himself.
Antinous was a Bithynian Greek youth and a favorite beloved of the Roman emperor Hadrian. After his premature death before his twentieth birthday, Antinous was deified on Hadrian's orders, being worshipped in both the Greek East and Latin West, sometimes as a god and sometimes merely as a hero Antinous was with Emperor Hadrian during his famous lion hunt and both men are depicted on the Arch of Constantine in Rome. The historical center of Rome is only about 15 miles (24 km) west of here.
The ancient Egyptian obelisk which originally stood at the Antinoeion can now be seen on the Pincian hill in Rome where it has stood since 1822. We are now walking towards the building known as "Three Exedras" for the three garden exedras that once stood there. To the left was a fountain around which 12 statues stood. The building was a semicircular arcaded triclinium (dining hall) surrounded by three gardens and the fountain. Hadrian was emperor of Rome for over 20 years, from AD 117 to 138. He disliked the palace on the Palatine Hill in Rome which lead to the construction of his villa here.
Hadrian, born Publius Aelius Hadrianus, was from Rome but his parents came from Spain. His parents died when he was young so Hadrian and his sister were adopted by Emperor Trajan. His father and emperor Trajan were first cousins. Hadrian is best known for his substantial building projects around the empire, especially Hadrian's Wall in northern Britain. Hadrian was well educated in his early life and was one of the most cultured Emperors to rule Rome.
He was an ardent admirer of Greece and wanted to make it the cultural capital of the Roman Empire. There were between 125 and 200 rooms built for storing supplies and housing the servants of the villa. Up next, we are going to visit the Small Baths (Piccole Terme) which are famous for their strikingly original design due to Hadrian's deep interest in architecture. The Small Baths are believed to have been for the emperor and other high ranking visitors while the Large Baths were for the service staff. Most of the bath complex is unfortunately closed off to visitors. Next we will see the Stadium Garden, named for its shape, but was not in fact a stadium.
The Stadium Garden was actually three different buildings which was surrounded by a colonnaded portico. The side we saw was the garden, while the center was a pavilion and the far side was the nymphaeum. To our right are the Small Baths. Up next we will see the Great Baths complex which were reserved for the women and servants at the villa. The name of this bath complex is due to the fact that it is larger than the two other baths on the site. This large area in front of the baths is the palestra, a type of exercise yard for the visitors of the baths.
It is important to remember that the brickwork of these buildings were originally covered up either with plaster or slabs of marble. This large room we see upon entering is the frigidarium, which was often the last room used in the bathing process. After the caldarium and the tepidarium, which used hot water to open the pores of the skin, the frigidarium would be reached.
At the far end, behind the pillars, was a large semicircular pool. This large hall was a tepidarium. Unfortunately, like the small baths, most of the bath complex is off limits to visitors.
The Praetorium Pavilion is believed to have been used for storage as well as dormitory rooms for the service staff. The villa complex was built during three different phases, with the first being between 118 and 121 AD. The last phase was between 134 and 138 AD. Emperor Hadrian died in 138 AD at the age of 62 at his villa in Baia, just a few miles west of Naples. The Canopus is essentially a sculpture garden consisting of a large pool surrounded by a colonnade with Corinthian columns, Greek statues and other Egyptian themed statuary. The pool is 393 ft (120m) long. On this side of the Canopus was a covered portico with two rows of columns. The opposite side only had a single row of columns.
At the far end is the temple of Serapis, an artificial grotto which included a triclinium (dining hall) where guests would recline while banqueting around a central fountain. The entire villa is spread over an area of approximately 250 acres with 30 major building complexes. For some perspective, the entire ancient city of Pompeii only covered an area of 163 acres. The Canopus is thought to pay homage to an Egyptian city of the same name that was linked to the Temple of Serapis by a canal from the Nile. Another belief is that the Canopus is meant to represent the Mediterranean Sea which could also explain the Greek and Egyptian statuary.
There was a fountain here and visitors would dine in the center hall with a view of the Canopus. This view faces in towards the dining hall with the fountain here in front. The Canopus was first excavated in the 18th century by the Jesuits who discovered several Egyptian statues. After Emperor Hadrian's death in 138 AD, the villa was passed on to his successors who ended up using it less and less as the years went by. By the 4th century during the decline of the Roman Empire, the villa was already in a partially ruinous state.
There was a statue in the pool on the platform to the right. The villa was eventually stripped of all its marble and other valuable objects. It was left in a state of neglect for the next one thousand years.
The marble, temple columns and other material were all taken to build new buildings in nearby Tivoli. Olive trees and other vegetation slowly buried the villa until it was forgotten about. During the 1400s, the site was correctly reidentified as that of Hadrian's Villa and the first excavations began soon after.
During the excavations, many of the artifacts and marble were taken and used in the Villa d'Este in Tivoli. By the way, I was in Tivoli at the Villa d'Este right before arriving here at Hadrian's Villa. I was not allowed to film inside the Villa d'Este so I came here instead. There were still hundreds of statues still here at the villa when the excavations began. Many of those statues can now be seen in the Vatican museum in Rome.
Other statues from the villa can be seen in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Here in the Antiquarium are some of the original statues found here at the villa. Now we are going to take a short walk out to the Torre di Roccabruna. The Roccabruna is a massive two story structure that is believed to have once had a third floor.
It is also thought that the Roccabruna was inspired by the famous Tower at the Academy of Athens. From the rooftop terrace of the Roccabruna there is a clear view of Rome and it is thought it could have been a location to signal those in Rome. The building is also thought to have been an observatory that was aligned towards the setting sun on the summer solstice. The Roccabruna is part of an area in the villa known as the Accademia which was the highest artificial terrace of the villa. All the buildings in the Accademia, as well as the Accademia itself, appear to be astronomically oriented along the solstitial axis.
Here on top of the terrace is where the dome Doric temple once stood which may have had an oculus at the top like the Panethon, also built by Hadrian. Rome is about 15 miles away. Directly ahead is the Accademia Esplanade which is on private land. In 1999 the Villa Adriana was included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for three main reasons. One, it is a masterpiece that brings together the material culture of the Mediterranean world.
Two, it inspired the Renaissance and baroque period as well as in the modern world. Three, the villa is an exceptional survival of the early Roman Empire. Management of the Villa Adriana is the responsibility of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism. Here you can see the backside of the Large Baths. We are now walking over to the Vestibule, which served as the grand entrance for important visitors. The Vestibule was actually three different buildings which extended from this far end to our left over to the entrance of the Large Baths to our right.
We have just entered the center building which was a large courtyard surrounded by a portico with an exedra here on the south end. The names of most of the buildings here, like the "Vestibule" are purely conventional. We are now facing north where the visitors would have entered into the villa on the paved road below. There would have been steps right here that lead down to the road. Now you can see the foundations of another building that was part of the Vestibule. This was an colonnaded roofed building which had an internal courtyard surrounded by several small rooms. We are still walking through what was once the main entrance with a view of the large baths on our right. Directly in front of us was a Peristyle which was the final part of the vestibule complex.
We are now heading up the terrace above the Great Baths and from there we will head over to the Winter Palace. The Winter Palace was a three storied building that was heated during the winter and housed a large swimming pool. The Winter Palace overlooks the Garden Stadium.
All the walls here in the palace were faced with decorated marble along with marble floors. We will come up these steps towards the end of our tour. The pockmarked holes in the walls are left behind from the brackets holding the marble on to the walls. The pool was surrounded by a colonnade composed of forty fluted white marble columns in the composite order.
There were statues placed in each niche surrounding the pool. Straight ahead is the Caserma dei Vigili (House of the Vigiles), which housed a detachment of soldiers that operated as the fire brigade. We are going to continue past the Fireman's Quarters and head over to the Piazza d'Oro. The Piazza d'Oro (Golden Square) was one of the most luxurious complexes at the villa with the floors and walls decorated in the opus sectile style.
Here on the north end was the vaulted vestibule (entrance), with a quadriporticus garden at the center and at far south end was a large hall with several rooms. The decorated inlayed marble floors and walls were are stripped away in the 1500s. Here you can see a small area decorated in the opus sectile fashion.
This was a central garden with a narrow pool going down the center. This building had a very complex layout and consisted of a central courtyard, surrounded by rooms of varying size and purpose. If you want to see detailed pictures of the layout of each building along with artist reconstructions, I recommend visiting the following website: http://vwhl.soic.indiana.edu/villa/
There are several tabs at the top of the website, but I think the most useful is the "Paradata" tab where you can read about each building and see several pictures. Down below the trees is the Gladiator's Arena. A triclinium is a formal dining hall. This area is known as the Terrace of the Piazza d'Oro. As we exit the Piazza d"Oro, we are walking along the outer wall of the Imperial Palace.
We will enter the palace first by going into the palace nymphaeum. A nymphaeum was a shrine to the nymphs. This corridor leads below the palace nymphaeum to the Hall of the Doric Pillars. Here on the ground in front of us were two small pools.
All that remains are the few pillars you see ahead, but the pillars once surrounded this entire hall. The precise function of this hall is unknown. The Fireman's Quarters are straight ahead. To our right is the entrance to the palace nymphaeum, and this garden area to our left was a large peristyle surrounded by a Quadriporticus, a four-sided portico. To our right was the Emperor's personal library. You are now seeing an upper view of the Hospitalia, a two-story building with 10 guest rooms.
The Hospitalia is thought to have been used by the emperor's Praetorian guard, a unit of the Imperial army that acted as personal bodyguards for the Emperor. Like many of the buildings here at the villa, the exact purpose of this building is not clear. The wooded area is the Library Courtyard.
The Greek Library is another structure of unknown purpose. While it is possible to identify the date of construction for some the buildings at the villa based on brickstamps, no brickstamps have been found here. We are now walking towards the Maritime Theater, named simply based on its shape and architectural decorations.
This was the main entrance to the the large hall known as the Maritime Theather. The Maritime Theater consisted of 35 different rooms and is thought of having been a villa within a villa. This is the Philosophers' Hall or Hall of the Seven Sages, which contained the statues of seven philosophers or possibly seven sages.
It is thought that the Maritime Theater was Emperor Hadrian's private studio where he could indulge in his two favorite pastimes, painting and architecture. Emperor Hadrian swam right here in this pool 1,886 years ago. We are now back at the Pecile where the walk began.