Sunday, 18 November 2012

Villa Adriana

The Villa Adriana (at Tivoli, near Rome) is an exceptional complex of classical buildings created in the 2nd century A.D. by the Roman emperor Hadrian. It combines the best elements of the architectural heritage of Egypt, Greece and Rome in the form of an 'ideal city' -
What is this, a Roman Villa for ants?!
I first found out about Villa Adriana from Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour, when the Grand Designs presenter retraced the steps of architects and artists from the 17th to 19th centuries. For Kiwis, the word 'villa' is rather deceptive when it comes to describing this place, as it's actually a complex of about 30 buildings covering over a square kilometre - as opposed to a single, uninsulated Grey Lynn house. In its heyday, Villa Adriana could've been featured in an epic episode of Cribs that would put any rapper to shame.
From the mosaic tiled floors to the detailed, anti-earthquake brickwork, there are some very well preserved examples of classical architecture here, so it was pretty surprising to see how empty this place was (compared to Rome, anyway).

The highlight is definitely the Maritime Theatre, which was really Hadrian's private apartment within his own palace, complete with a moat, though the drawbridge no longer exists. Ah, the perks of being an emperor.

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