The Villa d'Este is a 16th-century villa in Tivoli, near Rome, famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and especially for its profusion of fountains: the extraordinary system contains fifty-one fountains and nymphaeums, 398 spouts, 364 water jets, 64 waterfalls, and 220 basins, fed by 875 meters of canals, channels and cascades, and all working entirely by the force of gravity, without pumps. It is now an Italian state museum, and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Tivoli had been a popular summer residence since ancient Roman times due to its altitude, cooler temperatures and its proximity to the Villa Hadriana, the summer residence of the Emperor Hadrian I.

The Villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (1509-1572), second son of Alfonso I d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara and grandson of Pope Alexander VI, along with Lucrezia Borgia. d'Este commissioned a prominent classical scholar, Pirro Ligorio, who had studied the Villa Hadriana and other Roman sites the vicinity, to plan a new villa and garden which would exceed anything the Romans had built. He obtained an abundant supply of marble and statuary from the ruins of Hadrian's villa.

The construction began to slow in 1569, probably due to the financial difficulties of the Cardinal. He spent more and more of his time in the villa, reading and meeting with the leading poets, artists and philosophers of the Renaissance. In 1572, the Cardinal died in Rome, and was buried in a simple tomb in the church adjoining the Villa.

With the death of Ippolito in 1572, the villa and gardens passed to his nephew, Cardinal Luigi (1538-1586), who continued work on some of the unfinished fountains and gardens, but struggled with high maintenance costs. After his death in 1586 Cardinal Alessandro d'Este (1538-1624) carried out a major renovation of the gardens and water systems, as well as building a new system of fountains in the lower garden.

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Founded: Italian Renaissance (1550)
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dan (16 months ago)
Beautiful gardens with beautiful fountains. Perfect place for a day trip especially for children and families. Make sure to visit on a nice sunny day and you'll have a great time.
SeFok Chan (18 months ago)
Beautiful Villa in Tivoli which is best visited along with Hadrian Villa. Many building material of Villa d'Este was taken from Villa Hadrian. Built in the Renaissance by the powerful Cardinal d'Este, it is a beautiful villa built on the hillside. It is amazing that the several hundred fountains are still working today. The water is entirely powered by using the potential energy of the water from the hill. Another amazing sight is the fountain with the water organ which plays Renaissance music.
Laura Formentini (19 months ago)
The gorgeous garden with its monumental waterfalls bring beauty to life through their water play. The Villa is spectacular, too, but the gardens really spoke to me. Recommended!
Marco Soncini (2 years ago)
This villa,including the gardens that surround, is absolutely beautiful. It is very well maintained and the views from various points are spectacular. Very photogenic for people who love photography.
Marco Soncini (2 years ago)
This villa,including the gardens that surround, is absolutely beautiful. It is very well maintained and the views from various points are spectacular. Very photogenic for people who love photography.
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