Villa Adriana – The Country Residence of The Roman Emperors
On the outskirts of Rome, in the picturesque expanses of the Tiburta Mountains, in the vicinity of the ancient town of Tivoli, is one of the main treasures of Lazio. Villa Adriana, which is the most unique architectural monument of ancient Rome today, attracts attention with its enormous size. According to archaeologists, the summer residence of the ruler of the empire in ancient times occupied an area of at least 300 hectares, on its territory there were about 30 buildings, luxurious gardens and several artificial reservoirs. It was here that solemn celebrations were held with the participation of high-ranking officials, important political decisions were made and the everyday life of the emperors passed through for several centuries.
In 117 AD, Publius Eli Traian Adrian took over the throne of the Roman Empire. He was a great-nephew and successor to Trajan. During the two decades of his reign, Adrian managed to build a large number of colossal structures, many of which have survived to the present day. They say that the emperor himself created the projects of his buildings, but this fact remains covered with a layer of centuries-old dust and we cannot say with certainty about the architectural abilities of the ruler.
For a long time in the territory near the ancient city of Tibur, whose name today sounds like “Tivoli”, were located the luxurious houses of representatives of the Roman nobility. One of these villas that existed in the I century BC. and in the place of which the emperor subsequently built his summer residence, belonged to the great-grandfathers of Vibii Sabina, the wife of Hadrian.
No reliable information about the beginning of the construction of the imperial villa near Tibur was found, but the researchers, studying the ruins of ancient buildings, concluded that the work was carried out in at least three stages: from 118 to 121 years, then from 125 to 128 years and from 134 for 138 years. Adriana did not succeed in enjoying his creation, and the emperor died on July 10, 138.
Over the next two centuries, the emperors of Rome continued to use the villa as a summer residence, maintaining its condition in proper form. However, further on, Hadrian’s villa gradually fell into disrepair. There are suggestions that as early as the 4th century, Emperor Constantine took out many sculptures and decorative elements from its territory to Constantinople, and starting from the 6th century the Tiburtin government residence was constantly invaded by a barbarian.
The first excavations at this site were made in the 16th century. Ancient sculptures, bas-reliefs and other works of art found on the territory of Adriana, moved to museums. Most of them are now stored in the collections of the Vatican Museums.
According to the findings of the researchers, the territory in which Hadrian’s villa was located in ancient times occupied an area of at least 300 hectares. The complex of structures included about 30 buildings of various purposes, as well as recreation areas with artificial ponds and parks.
In addition to the main palace where the imperial apartments were located, the Hospitable courtyard was located on the estate. It was intended for the praetorians – the emperor’s bodyguards, as well as premises for the maintenance of slaves and the barracks of the guards.
In addition, Adrian’s Villa had a Greek and Roman libraries, a large library hall, a philosopher’s hall, an academy, several temples and shrines of pagan gods, and a theater.
One of the most important components of the life of the ancient Romans was a visit to the baths, so not a single luxurious residence, especially imperial, could not do without these structures. On the territory of Villa Adriana, several baths were built at once: Small and Large Baths, as well as saunas with solar heating.
In addition to rooms with hot, warm and cold baths, such facilities include halls for sweating, gymnastics, ball games, and special rooms for massage and relaxation. There was also a sports ground for practicing outdoors and wrestling exercises.
To service such a large villa, a whole system of underground tunnels was equipped. According to this system, slaves could move without disturbing high-ranking persons.
The Villa Adriana can be reached:
– by bus COTRAL, which leaves from the metro station Ponte Mammolo (линия B) on the route Rome-Tivoli.
– From Tiburin station by train, which follows the route Rome-Pescara, you need to go to the station “Tivoli”. The station is located in the historic center of the city, from where you can get to the Villa Adriana by bus.