In the small town of Tivoli a bit outside Rome you will find the remains of the greatest Roman villa ever built. The gigantic Villa Adriana or Hadrian’s Villa is located just outside modern day Tivoli and you can go inside and explore this amazing Roman sight. You can go there as a day trip for Rome or easier if you have a car driving out of Rome or towards Rome then this is an easy stop.
The villa was constructed as a retreat for Emperor Hadrian – yeah the one with the wall in UK. He didn’t really like his palace on the Palatine Hill in Rome so he wanted a place to stay which he enjoyed. Other roman emperors before Hadrian had a country villa to retreat to when they got tired of the life in Rome – but Hadrian took it a step further governing for long periods of time from this country retreat – so there was probably a fairly large court living more or less permanently in or around the villa.
The villa was built in the 110s to 120s and it was so splendid later roman emperors used it as a retreat as well. After Constantin the Great moved the capital to Constantinople the old center of the empire Rome went into decline – and so did the life of the villa. It ended up as a warehouse in the middle of the 6th century. There is also found some old kilns on the premise where the marble from the statues and buildings has been converted into lime. Something was left behind – and in the 16th century a cardinal made excavations and took away some statues to his own marvelous villa – Villa d’Este.
Today what still remains of the villa is a UNESCO world heritage site and it is pretty big indeed so when you go visit make sure you have time to walk all around the area. When you arrive to the entrance gate you might think you are at the villa – but you are just at the outskirts of the area and you actually have to walk 300 meters along a small road before you reach a wall which is kind of the entrance to the villa complex. Behind the wall is a large pool which is still preserved fairly intact.
The total complex covers an area of at least one square kilometer and there are about 30 buildings – but there might be more hidden under the ground. The many structures still standing makes this area more like an old roman city than what you actually find in Rome itself. The big difference of this area and Rome is the fact that Rome has been continuously inhabited – hence there are not many large areas of Romans remains left at any particular place in the city. Out here at the villa the buildings has been preserved since the area has been lightly populate din the last couple of millennia’s. So the buildings make up a connected area of buildings which looks a bit like a little city.
We walk around the many buildings which consist of all the amenities a fairly big Roman town used to have. There are large baths, temples and warehouses in addition to large beautiful pool complexes which is very nice to walk around.
The only downside with the area is there is no restaurant inside the area so if your visit is around lunch time you will need to bring a packed lunch into the area and find a nice place where you can sit in the shade and have your food.