The Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Villa) 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'.
The villa was constructed at Tibur (modern-day Tivoli) as a retreat from Rome for Roman Emperor Hadrian during the second and third decades of the 2nd century AD. The picturesque landscape around Tibur had made the area a popular choice for villas and rural retreats.
During the later years of his reign, Hadrian actually governed the empire from the villa. Hadrian started using the Villa as his official residence around AD 128. A large court therefore lived there permanently and large numbers of visitors and bureaucrats would have to have been entertained and temporarily housed on site.
It isn't known if Hadrian's wife lived at the villa either on a temporary or permanent basis - his relations with her were apparently rather strained or distant, possibly due to his ambiguous sexuality. Hadrian's parents had died when he was young and he and his sister were adopted by Trajan. It is possible that Hadrian's court at the villa was predominately male but it's likely that his childhood nurse Germana, whom he had formed a deep attachment to, was probably accommodated there (she actually outlived him).
After Hadrian, the villa was occasionally used by his various successors (busts of Antoninus Pius (138-161), Marcus Aurelius (161-180), Lucius Verus (161-169), Septimius Severus and Caracalla have been found on the premises). Zenobia, the deposed queen of Palmyra, possibly lived here in the 270s.
During the decline of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, the villa gradually fell into disuse and was partially ruined as valuable statues and marble were taken away. The facility was used as a warehouse by both sides during the destructive Gothic War (535-554) between the Ostrogoths and Byzantines. Remains of lime kilns have been found, where marble from the complex was burned to extract lime for building material.
In the 16th century, Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este had much of the remaining marble and statues in Hadrian's Villa removed to decorate his own Villa d'Este located nearby. Since that period excavations have sporadically turned up more fragments and sculptures some of which have been kept in situ or housed on site in the display buildings.
Hadrian's Villa is a vast area of land with many pools, baths, fountains and classical Greek architecture set in what would have been a mixture of landscaped gardens, wilderness areas and cultivated farmlands.
One of the most striking and best preserved parts of the Villa consists of a pool named Canopus and an artificial grotto named Serapeum. The pool measured 119 by 18 meters. Each column surrounding the pool was connected to each other with marble.
Many beautiful artifacts have been unearthed and restored at the Villa, such as marble statues of Antinous, Hadrian's deified lover, accidentally drowned in Egypt, and mosaics from the theatre and baths.
Hadrian's Villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and important cultural and archaeological site. It is also a major tourist destination along with the nearby Villa d'Este and the town of Tivoli. The Academy of the villa was placed on the 100 Most Endangered Sites 2006 list of the World Monuments Watch because of the rapid deterioration of the ruins.References:
Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius.
Construction on the present building was begun in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana. Intended to house the King Philip III of Spain on a visit never fulfilled to this part of his kingdom, instead it initially housed the Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, count of Lemos. By 1616, the facade had been completed, and by 1620, the interior was frescoed by Battistello Caracciolo, Giovanni Balducci, and Belisario Corenzio. The decoration of the Royal Chapel of Assumption was not completed until 1644 by Antonio Picchiatti.
In 1734, with the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. On the occasion of his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony in 1738, Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro helped remodel the interior. Further modernization took place under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. In 1768, on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Carolina of Austria, under the direction of Ferdinando Fuga, the great hall was rebuilt and the court theater added. During the second half of the 18th century, a 'new wing' was added, which in 1927 became the Vittorio Emanuele III National Library. By the 18th century, the royal residence was moved to Reggia of Caserta, as that inland town was more defensible from naval assault, as well as more distant from the often-rebellious populace of Naples.
During the Napoleonic occupation the palace was enriched by Joachim Murat and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, with Neoclassic decorations and furnishings. However, a fire in 1837 damaged many rooms, and required restoration from 1838 to 1858 under the direction of Gaetano Genovese. Further additions of a Party Wing and a Belvedere were made in this period. At the corner of the palace with San Carlo Theatre, a new facade was created that obscured the viceroyal palace of Pedro de Toledo.
In 1922, it was decided to transfer here the contents of the National Library. The transfer of library collections was made by 1925.
The library suffered from bombing during World War II and the subsequent military occupation of the building caused serious damage. Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte (recently restored), the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices, including those of the regional tourist board.