Villa Adriana, or in English known as Hadrian’s Villa, was the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s retreat from Rome until he moved there permanently in AD 128. It was subsequently occupied by a few successors but fell into a state of disrepair during the 4th century (decline of the Roman Empire). The site was used for building materials, and valuables were taken. Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este (remember him from Villa d’Este?) had many of the remaining statues and marble were taken for his villa.
History aside for a moment. Villa Adriana is one of the most impressive, and interesting, villas I have ever been to. It is absolutely worth a trip outside of Rome to see. If you want to make your day outside of the city even more worth it, Villa d’Este is not far from there. The picture above is mainly to show the scale. This is a photo-heavy post but I think it is worth it to show the sheer size of the villa.
The property contains over 30 buildings, some of which is yet to be excavated. The size of the property is similar to that of Pompeii to give some context (if you have never been to Pompeii it takes a full day to maybe see all of it). The buildings influenced by Roman, Greek, and Egyptian architecture and inspired by Hadrian’s travel.
This UNESCO World Heritage site has sadly been subject to private excavations, mainly by those seeking valuables. Many of the materials and statues of worth have been removed and are in various locations around Europe and possibly beyond.
Villa Adriana is an incredible showcase of Roman architecture and example of the great wealth of emperors. This is possibly one of the greatest villas of this time period; not just as a personal opinion, but in size and complexity and what I am sure was very luxurious before it was ransacked. Also, who wouldn’t love these landscapes as part of their daily view?
Here is a model in the visitors center, I think it shows a lot better what the pictures obviously cannot. It looks like an entire town, that was the idea. Hadrian wanted to create an ideal city combining the styles of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian, the result? This monumental villa that is comparable to none.