Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli Italy



Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli Italy


The following texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.


All the information in our site are given for nonprofit educational purposes

The information of medicine and health contained in the site are of a general nature and purpose which is purely informative and for this reason may not replace in any case, the council of a doctor or a qualified entity legally to the profession.



Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli Italy



Hadrian’s Villa was built between 118-34 AD.  The villa went through two main phases of building with the second beginning in 125 AD when Hadrian arrived backed from his travels abroad, much of which was spent in Athens.

This was the most extravagant of all the Roman country palaces and covered a mile of land outside of Tivolli, which was 15km north of Rome.  This meant that Hadrian could live outside the city and away from the citizens when he was at Rome.

The Villa covered 1.5 square kilometres and was a collection of many buildings each built for a different purpose, these included: lavish reception rooms, gardens, recreation halls, an exercise yard, libraries, baths, pools (decorative and swimming), private and guest’s quarters, etc … 

Many buildings were named                   - Poikile                     - named after Stoa Poikile (Painted Stoa) in Athens.
after well-known buildings                      - Academy                - named after a district in Athens which was associated with philiosophy.
and places Hadrian had                           - Vale of the Tempe                  - named after a area in Thessaly in northern Greece.
visited.                                                          - Canopus                 - named after an island in the Nile in Egypt.
- but none of these structures copies the designs and architecture of the original foreign structures. 

Other parts of the villa have more fantastical names such as “Hades” – the long underground passages near the Academy.

Construction techniques used in buildings
The walls are brick faced concrete is used throughout and covered with stucco.  The walls were decorated with mosaics and frescoes.  The floors were paved with polychrome marbles, often set with both polychrome and monochrome mosaics. 

Egyptian - the crocodile sculptures that surround the Canopus canal,
elements                   - long-ness of the pool (representing the river itself),
in the villa                 - also Egyptian granite used in the courtyard of the Piazza D’Oro.

Greek                        - mosaics of many colours (polychrome),
elements                  - double colonnades,
in the villa                 - Corinthian capitals,
- Caryatids and copies of other Greek sculptures,
- names of certain buildings.

Roman                      - use of the arch and vault,
elements                  - the types of buildings and the layout of these buildings,
in the villa                 - decoration with mosaics and frescoes.

Hadrianic                  - the circular nature of the buildings (curves, domes, and pumpkin domes) show his interest in architectural form and design,
elements                  - interior space given much more emphasis than ever before,
in the villa                 - incorporation of water into the architectural plan,
- fondness of polychrome mosaics and Greek statues.

Piazza D’Oro means “Golden Court” because of its yellow mosaics found in the courtyard and because of the wealth of finds discovered here. 

Great                         - the dimension of this courtyard was 60m x 51m,
Colonnaded             - it had a doubler colonnade which had twice as many columns on the outside as on the inside,,
Central                      - groups of rooms and entrance chambers surrounded this central court,
Courtyard                 - a long pool ran down the centre of the pool that was surrounded by gardens.

The courtyard was entered through a “pumpkin” domed vestibule on the north-west side.  On the opposite side from this was another dome on the south-eastern wall that was pierced by a central light hole.  Off this dome are 4 small rooms that are screened by two columns each.  These rooms - were used to receive guests. 
- these rooms were lit by other rooms with light wells in there roofs. 
- their walls alternate between convex and concave curves which helps to create the effect of movement. 
- a curved nymphaeum comes off this dome and is complete an artificial grotto complete with a pool. 

- was constructed between 131-134 AD.
- the canopus canal was a long pool with semi-circular ends surrounded by columns and statues with a large half-dome at one end. 
- Serapeum = inside this half-dome is the Nymphaeum (fountain).  Here water trickled into niches built into the pumice walls. 
- the walls were also lined with glass mosaics. 
- inside the half-dome there was also an outdoor dining area with a  permanent concrete couch for reclining, relaxing and eating.
- design influenced by temple of Serapis in Canopus which was an island in the middle of the Nile,

The other sculptures that surround the pool are copies of Greek originals.  There are also Caryatids which are columns in the shape of a woman.  These were adapted from those seen on the Acropolis in Athens.

This was NOT a theatre at all but Hadrian’s private retreat.  This circular island is surrounded by: 1. a moat, 2. a colonnade of un-fluted Corinthian columns, 3. a barrel vaulted portico, 4. a high circular wall.  This all helped to keep it separate from the rest of the Villa.  The only access onto the island was over two drawbridges.  Some of the walls were open with columns instead of a solid wall.  This helped to provide air, light and visibility.

Rooms    - two small bedrooms,
on the      - a dining room (Triclinium),
island       - bathing facilities and a plunge pool,
- a portico and a perisytle courtyard.

These were two buildings next to the northern colonnaded wall.  They were probably more of a dining area than a library. 

To the west were the Palace’s guest rooms which were five rooms on either side of a central passageway with floors that are intricately patterned with black and white mosaics.

This was a long area (232m x 97m) with a portico on all four sides which held a long pool (107m x 26m).  A shady portico (a row of columns connected by a vaulted roof to a wall) surrounded the area.

These were long underground passageways near the academy that took their name from the underworld.



A number of mosaics were discovered in a hall in the Central Court of Hadrian’s Villa.  This area of Hadrian’s villa belongs to the second phase of building. 

One of these showed a country scene of goats with goatherd and the other shows the brutal natural scene showing a lion attacking a cattle. 

Both mosaics are made in polychrome tessellated technique – multi-coloured pieces of imported marble and glass.  This process was a painstaking and expensive process and superseded the previous technically simpler black and white mosaics. 

Style of mosaic is associated with Greek painting from the 4th century BC.  Hadrian was heavily influenced by the Greeks.     - he spent lots of time in Athens, 
- Athenian influence is seen in his architecture plans,
- Greek-influenced revival during Hadrian’s reign,

To create the illusion of depth in the scene and volume in the characters the artist has used shading, highlighting, three-quarter view, foreshortening, diminishing scale of goats towards the background. 

The naturalistic characteristics present in this mosaics are usually associated with wall paintings of the time.

Goats and a goatherd
The scene is set in a rocky landscape with a flock of goats graze and rest near a stream. 

In the right middle on the scene is a bronze statue dressed in the Greek fashion with a long tunic belted about the waist.  The statue also wears a wreath on its head and holds a bunch of grapes in its right hand.  In its left hand it holds a staff topped with leaves.  R. Hannah says this statue is probably an image of the god Dionysus whereas M. Wheeler says it is just a goatherder.

Underneath the statue is a painting but its significance and detail is unsure.  It could be a phallus connected with the fertility god Priapus. 

The figure of the deity and the tablet means the peaceful county scene is ‘sacro-idyllic’.

The goats are shown from different viewpoints and angles.  The goats set higher in the scene are meant to be further away.  Two goats are slightly smaller and therefore further away (‘linear perspective’).  One goat has its rear overlapped by a tree to add the feeling of depth.  There are also shadows cast by the three standing goats.

The trees on the left and smaller than the trees behind the statue giving the impression of space and distance.  The dark green trees stand out against the light background. 

The sky is not strongly contrasted and is not blue but a lighter shade of that used for the far ground. 

Lion attacking cattle
Violent scene in a natural landscape of vegetation, rocks and water.  In the foreground a yellow lion with a dark mane is attacking a brown bull while a cow on the other side on the river a cow watches on.  The lighter colour bull leaps away in fear of the vicious attack with fear in its eyes and on its face.

The golden colour of the lion contrasts with the chocolate colour of the bull.

Blood falls in red lines from the wounds made by the lion’s claws and its mouth.

The scene includes a tree in the front right and a rocky outcrop to the left.  Behind the pond is a small hill with plants and some trees.

A variety of techniques is used to indicate volume and depth.                                                                      - shadows cast by the bull and the lion,
- severe foreshortening on the bulls body with a ¾ view of its body from the rear,
- shading and highlighting (on the bulls horn’s),
- the far rock being overlapped by the rock in front of it, and in light colours,
- the trees in the background are not as detailed as those in the foreground.


Source : http://www.rosehill-college.co.nz/datastore/pages/page_1035/docs/documents/keynoteshadrianvilla.doc


Web site link: http://www.rosehill-college.co.nz

Google key word : Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli Italy file type : doc

Author : not indicated on the source document of the above text

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly.


Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli Italy


If you want to quickly find the pages about a particular topic as Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli Italy use the following search engine:




Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli Italy


Please visit our home page



Larapedia.com Terms of service and privacy page




Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli Italy