GUEST POST OVERVIEW: I’ve been known to travel thousands of kilometers out of my way, just to explore an ancient ruin. The feeling of history as I stand in the same place that ancient kings and peasants stood gives me chills. Plus, of course, I love photographing every inch of any ruin I come across.

For all these reasons and more, I’m happy to post Aleix’s lastest article on the ruins of Villa Adriana in Rome. I’ve never been, but what’s a few thousand extra kilometers when you’re already out on the road in Thailand 🙂

Villa Adriana … a Roman Treasure

Built in the 2nd century AD, Villa Adriana is the pure definition of beautiful ruins. Water, marble and stone are what remain of this little villa ordered to be built by Emperor Hadrian himself and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Villa Adriana in Rome, Italy
Villa Adriana in Rome, Italy

Just under 30 minutes east of Rome lies the town of Tivoli. Most people won’t have heard of this little town of 55,000 people but the fact is that it contains one of the most beautiful group of Roman ruins in the world.

(photography courtesy of Vistorama)

If it’s like this now, it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like 1800 years ago, when Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa in English), a retreat from Rome since he was apparently displeased with his palace on Palatine Hill. It’s hard to imagine what it looks like if you’re used to the sights from your windows in your Rome apartments but once you’re there, you’ll never forget it.


Ponds, Lakes & Ruins – Side by Side

Villa Adriana is on a small lake -- Photography by World-3 --
Villa Adriana is on a small lake — Photography by World-3 —

If you’ve not yet been convinced about this, all you need to do is a quick Google of this place and the images will stun you, guaranteed. It’s probably fair to say that most of the beauty of this place lies in the fact that there’s plenty of water there, ponds, small lakes and that combined with the marble of the constructions, it gives one the feeling of witnessing dead beauty when looking at it.

The columns and the sculptures reflecting in the water make for an astounding picture, especially if one goes there in the early evening, when the sun is going down and the sunlight plays with the shadows to give photography lovers an absolute treat.

(Lake photography by World-3)

Villa Adriana is a complex of 30 buildings in the space of just under a square mile, the perfect paradise retreat for the Roman emperor, a place which was also used by his successors, some of them, including Hadrian himself, governing the Empire from this villa, such was the beauty of it during that time.


Beauty is Everywhere in Villa Adriana

Quite possibly the most beautiful part of the villa is the peristyle that surrounds a small pond, easily the most picturesque part of the place, called the Piazza dell’Oro, the Golden Square. Also, there are the remains of small and large thermal baths, for servants and aristocracy respectively, a Greek theatre and a Maritime Theatre, a peculiar construction which is a round portico with a vault in the shape of a barrel that’s supported by classic-style pillars.

Villa Adriana
Villa Adriana

Many sculptures and statues that have been recovered: mostly depicting Roman and Egyptian Gods. This is amazing, considering it is believed that most of the villa has not yet been excavated properly. That means there’s a chance there could be much more of it still hidden underground: an unbelievable possibility if we consider the beauty of it already.

Also under the buildings are a series of tunnels, which were used by servants and slaves as well as animals to move around the villa and so not have to mix with the Emperor and his guests.

Villa Adriana is a truly remarkable place. It’s one of the most picturesque locations in the whole of Italy and definitely worth leaving your apartments in Rome for. Make a day trip out of it and take time to explore the town of Tivoli as well. You won’t regret it!


About the Author: Aleix Gwilliam is a 24 year old from Barcelona who looks English but thinks like a Catalan. He enjoys travelling, especially on old Czech trains, and trying to start conversations in Hungarian with people at Pecs station, even though his Hungarian is as good as his Bulgarian, in other words, not very good. He’s a trier.