Villa Adriana

Villa Adriana is a wonderful archaeological complex built 2 centuries ago by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The villa is a blend of different architectural styles, combining the best of Egypt, Rome and Greece. Since 1999, Villa Adriana has been included in the UNESCO list of world historical and cultural heritage, being a unique example of the best architecture of the Roman Empire.

Villa Adriana is a true open-air museum, occupying an impressive area of 300 acres. The entire complex is filled with representations of Emperor Hadrian’s favorite buildings from Rome to Egypt. The villa is a true jewel mainly because it is a masterpiece that uniquely unites the highest manifestation of material cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world. Furthermore, Villa Adriana and the study of its monuments played an important role in the rediscovery of elements of classical architecture by Renaissance and Baroque architects. The buildings in the complex are an example and a model for many architects, drawing inspiration from the styles of Villa Adriana.

shutterstock_324287297Dexcription: part of the gardens of the villa /picture source: Shutterstock/;

It was no coincidence that Villa Adriana was Emperor Hadrian’s favorite place outside of Rome. It represents an extraordinary symbiosis between lakes, fountains, libraries, baths, temples and gardens. It is a curious fact that the emperor did not like his palace on the Palatine Hill in Rome and this is what contributed to the construction of the villa. After the emperor’s death, his heirs continued to use the villa. After the decline of the Roman Empire, however, it was abandoned and began to progressively lose its luster.

Today, Villa Adriana is a wonderful place that is perfect for relaxing and picnicking. Scattered fragments of columns are everywhere, set among olive trees and cypresses. In the building next to the parking lot of the complex, you can see a model of the original architecture of the buildings of Villa Adriana. The most important buildings in the Roman park are marked with signs, and several have been partially restored and reconstructed.

The most impressive building in Villa Adriana is the so-called Maritime Theater. It is a circular pool with an island in the middle surrounded by columns. This ‘island’, which was accessible only by means of a drawbridge, is believed to have been a favorite retreat of Emperor Hadrian, where he indulged in his two favorite pastimes – painting and architecture.


Description: remaining of the villa /picture source: Shutterstock/;

The richness of Villa Hadriana today include remains of the former theaters, a Greek and Latin library, two baths, extensive quarters for guests and palace staff, and formal gardens with fountains, statues, and pools. One of Hadrian’s other passions was philosophy, and in the complex’s gardens there was a special reproduction of the academy where Plato lectured his students. Villa Adriana also housed a duplicate of the Stoà Poikile, a beautiful colonnade in Athens. It is located in the central square, where the large pool is. Near it is the so-called Hall of the Philosophers (Hall of the Philosophers), which was most likely once a library.

One of the most ambitious architectural reproductions in Villa Hadriana was Canopus – a sanctuary of the god Serapis near Alexandria. Hadrian ordered the transportation of original Egyptian statues for the decoration of this temple. Under the ground of the entire Villa Hadriana was built a recreation of the underworld of Hades, made up of various tunnel passages connecting the individual parts of the Villa Hadriana.

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