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Hadrian's Villa

Hadrian's Villa

The Villa of the Emperor Hadrian 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 wrote in his History of Architecture.

The villa created at Tibur as a retreat from Rome for Hadrian early in the 2nd century 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. Hadrian's Villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hadrian's Villa was the greatest Roman example of an Alexandrian garden, recreating a sacred landscape, still traceable in spite of the despoliation of the ruins by the Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, who had much of the marble removed to build his gardens at the Villa d'Este nearby. (from

Maritime Theater
This unique building consists of a circular Ionic portico, probably once barrel-vaulted, then a moat that surrounds a small circular island. Marine friezes were discovered here, thus the modern name of this structure. This was a sort of villa within the villa and provided a retreat from daily life.

Several researchers have also suggested that this unique structure had cosmological significance with the central island representing earth, surrounded by water--an image for the primordial ocean. With the concentric circles the building becomes an image of the cosmos--the imago mundi. See especially Henri Stieren, noted below.(from

Teatro Marittimo 02

Teatro Marittimo 03

Teatro Marittimo 05

Teatro Marittimo 06

The famous monument is located in a long and narrow natural valley, partly carved to form and reinforced with walls preceeded by tabernae. The center of the vallay is occupied by a long canal with the curved north side flanked by a columnade with alternatively flat and arched architraves(Hadrian's Villa, Vision Publications).

Canopus 06

Canopus 10

Canopus 11

Canopus 14

Small Temple of Venus
Circular shrine of modest dimensions, within a semicircular exedrae. Here was found a copy of Praxiteles's Aphrodite of Cnidos enabling us to identify the model which was being imitated, that is the circular temple of Cnidos which contained the original statue. (Hadrian's Villa, Vision Publications).

Temple of Venus 01

Temple of Venus 02

Temple of Venus 03

Temple of Venus 04

Photographed by Giuseppe Stuto, Rome, Italy

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