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Hadrian and his villa

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Part of the garden in Hadrian's villa
Part of the garden in Hadrian's villa

Emperor Hadrian (reigning in the years 117-138 CE) became famous as one of the so-called “five good emperors”. His reign was a period of stabilization and order in the country, which did not wage serious conflicts and gave up conquests. His numerous travels and visits to the provinces probably tempted him to implement a vast project – building a huge mansion in Tivoli, which was to be a place of relaxation and seclusion.

The luxurious and large villa was built in the years 118-134 CE, which is practically throughout his reign. Its area probably ranged from 80 to 300 ha. It was the most extensive palace building of the antiquity period. Its area is comparable to that of Pompeii. The buildings of this summer residence consisted of a complex of buildings located in an artificially enriched landscape to emphasize this landscape. The turning point for the construction works was carried out in 125 CE when Hadrian returned from a tour of the Empire. The impressions from the trip inspired him to build objects on the Villa’s premises that imitate the buildings seen in Greece and Egypt. This eclectic residence is arranged in three interconnected complexes, intended for: the emperor, his family and guests; senior government officials; soldiers, servants and slaves.

Archaeologists have identified a total of 30 different buildings – including luxurious palaces, baths, theatres, and libraries. The individual objects were connected with each other by underground roads and corridors. They were used by the servants and enslaved people working in the Villa to move around while remaining invisible to the staying guests.

The villa of Hadrian’s successors served as a summer residence. The object gradually fell into oblivion with time and was plundered during the barbarian invasion.

More about the villa in Tivoli

  • Krawczuk Aleksander, Poczet cesarzy rzymskich, Warszawa 2004

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