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:
The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was part of the federal sanctuary of the three Gauls dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus celebrated by the 60 Gallic tribes when they gathered at Lugdunum (Lyon). The amphitheatre was built at the foot of the La Croix-Rousse hill at what was then the confluence of the Rhône and Saône.
Excavations have revealed a basement of three elliptical walls linked by cross-walls and a channel surrounding the oval central arena. The arena was slightly sloped, with the building"s south part supported by a now-vanished vault. The arena"s dimensions are 67,6m by 42m. This phase of the amphitheatre housed games which accompanied the imperial cult, with its low capacity (1,800 seats) being enough for delegations from the 60 Gallic tribes.
The amphitheatre was expanded at the start of the 2nd century. Two galleries were added around the old amphitheatre, raising its width from 25 metres to 105 metres and its capacity to about 20,000 seats. In so doing it made it a building open to the whole population of Lugdunum and its environs.