Next time in Rome, check out the villa of this once opulent Roman emperor

Hadrian was a Roman emperor who built many of the most famous Roman fortifications (such as Hadrian’s Wall), monuments, and temples that survive today. But he didn’t just build great walls and temples, he also built his own magnificent city-like villa. The villa was built around 120 AD just outside Rome at Tivoli, and today it is open to the public.

There’s so much to see and do in Rome that it’s impossible to do justice to the ancient and modern city in one short visit. Try to fit Hadrian’s Villa into an essential weekend itinerary during your stay in Rome. The villa is also not very expensive to visit and is therefore one of the most amazing attractions one can visit on a budget in Rome.

The “good” Emperor Hadrian

It is said that Hadrian disliked the Roman palace on Rome’s Palatine Hill and so decided to build himself an opulent retreat just outside the bustling city. It was normal for Roman emperors to build villas as treats from the grueling daily life of running the empire in Rome. Some of these villas were so large and self-sufficient that they had their own farms which produced enough food for the villa.

In the last years of his reign, Hadrian not only relaxed there, he also ruled the empire from his villa. Around 128 AD, it was his official residence.

  • Edward Gibbon: Incudes Hadrian among the Empire’s ‘five good emperors’, a ‘benevolent dictator’
  • Reigned: 117 to 138

Hadrian died at the age of 63, leaving the Empire in stable shape and in good repair for his successor Antoninus Pius.

After the great Emperor Hadrian, the villa continued to be used on occasion by successor Roman emperors like Antonius Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus, Septimius Severus and Caracalla (extrapolating from their busts found at the villa).

Related: This Is Rome’s Most Picturesque Neighborhood (And What To Do When Visiting)

The enormity of Hadrian’s Villa complex

“(the Villa) combines the best elements of the architectural heritage of Egypt, Greece and Rome in the form of an ‘ideal city'” UNESCO

Ruling the nascent Roman Empire was no small feat, and a large court also lived there permanently. Many visitors and bureaucrats also stayed and entertained there. The villa would have looked a lot like an ancient Roman city.

Villa Hadrian was a complex fit for an emperor. It covered a huge area with many pools, baths, fountains and lots of classical Greek and Roman architecture. Hadrian was also a traveling man, so he also included a number of Egyptian-style buildings and statues. In his time, there would have been a mixture of landscaped gardens, cultivated farmland and wilderness areas.

In total, the complex would have included more than 30 buildings and would even have covered an area larger than that of the city of Pompeii! It covered about one square kilometer (250 acres). Naturally, much of it remains unexplored today.

  • Number of buildings: More than 30 buildings

Hadrian included a number of structures from the many places he had visited in his life.

  • The Nile: The Resort Had A Small “Nile River”
  • Underworld: There was a cave called Hades

One of the most eye-catching features of the villa was a huge garden surrounded by a swimming pool and an arcade. At first, the pool was surrounded by a wall with a colonnaded interior.

The villa had two levels. The upper floor was for the Emperor’s official use and would have been quiet and welcoming. The lower level would have been noisy and bustling filled with slaves.

  • Pool: 232 by 97 meters (761 by 318 ft)

Being naturally a Roman villa, it also had a library, heated baths, three suites with heated floors, an art gallery, a fountain, an island on a lake with wooden drawbridges, lounges, baths and more. small, an atrium, a triclinium and Suite.

  • Included: Baths, temples, barracks, theatres, gardens, fountains and nymphaeums

Related: Beating Heart of Rome: This is What the Roman Forum Looked Like

Hadrian’s Villa today

Today the massive villa has been partially excavated and is open to the public. It is a World Heritage Site (since 1999) and is (theoretically) protected even in the event of war.

  • Cut: 120 hectares or 250-300 acres (of which 40 hectares can be seen today)
  • Standard ticket: 8 euro ($9.00)
  • Address: Largo Marguerite Yourcenar, 1- 00019 Tivoli (RM)
  • Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. (hours vary by season)

It is located a short distance from Rome and is a perfect day trip to visit the Eternal City. Find out more about visiting the villa on the Visit Trivoli website.

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