Villa d'Este is located in the town of Tivoli, which can be reached by driving 24 kilometers northeast of Rome. Formerly an ordinary monastery, for several decades by the hands of skilled craftsmen it was turned into an architectural masterpiece. The unprecedented beauty of the garden, many diverse fountains, grottoes and ponds allow it to be called the most beautiful attraction both in Tivoli and throughout Italy.
Villa d'Este belonged to Cardinal Hippolytus II d'Este (Ippolito II d'Este), who at one time was pushed back by Julius III from the papal chair and sent to the city of Tivoli as governor.
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Hippolytus II was a great connoisseur of culture and art, so the new residence did not impress the nobleman. The building, which had previously served as a haven for monks, seemed a dull, gray and nondescript sybarite, accustomed to luxury. For this reason, the cardinal decided to set up a park around the castle, incomparable in its beauty.
The development of the project began in 1550, however, the final version was approved by the cardinal only 10 years later. The author of the project was Pirro Ligorio, an architect and expert in his field, who had previously been in the service of the papal court and had a hand in such masterpieces as the Monster Garden of Parco dei Mostri and the papal palace in the Vatican (Casino di Pio IV in Vaticano). Villa d'Este nevertheless became his greatest masterpiece.
The luxurious design of the villa was to emphasize its status as a cultural center, where it was planned to hold meetings of representatives of art. The interior decoration of the castle began in 1563 and by the time of the death of the cardinal (1572) was almost finished.
The renewal of the park began in 1605 by Hippolytus' successor, Alessandro d'Este, who for this purpose attracted the great architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In the century, the villa, in view of the lack of proper care, fell into a deplorable state: the water supply system that fed the numerous fountains was out of date, the statues and decorative buildings began to crumble, the park acquired an untidy look.
The estate passed into the possession of Franz Habsburg (German Franz Habsburger), and on the eve of the First World War - Archduke Franz Ferdinand (German Franz Ferdinand). At the end of hostilities, the villa was nationalized by the state. The last restoration was carried out after the end of World War II.
What to see?
The main entrance of the villa will lead travelers to the old Cardinal apartments, which were created specifically for Hippolytus II. They still store beautiful frescoes and stucco molding, conveying the unique beauty of the style of bygone days.
Like all architectural masterpieces created during the Renaissance, the local garden is also not without some kind of philosophical and political context. So, the key figure in the garden is the statue of Hercules, which, according to some myths and legends, is the progenitor of the clan d'Este. Two roads go from the statue: one, according to legend, leads to the knowledge of good, and the other to vice. The statue of the goddess of love Venus, like the image of Hercules, personifies another dilemma: to choose earthly love or heavenly love.
Since Hippolytus II failed to become the Pope of Rome, he ordered the architects to create a miniature copy of Rome in the garden, where the most remarkable monuments of the Eternal City were collected. Also striking in its beauty is the unusual design of the main entrance. It is made in the form of a semicircular loggia with staircases on the sides. The central part of the loggia is framed by fountains, and from below it ends with a beautiful grotto.
The main wealth of Villa d'Esta is the fountains, which have an almost magical effect on everyone who falls into their zone of influence.
The beautiful garden created by Cardinal Hippolytus II needed water supply, so cascades, canals, ponds, fountains and water jets were built, each of which not only served as a water supply, but also pleased the eye.
Today, the villa has more than five hundred fountains. All of them were carefully planned by architects and carry their philosophical meaning.
Neptune Fountain (Fontana di Nettuno)
Neptune Fountain It was built later than the rest (1927), however, it fits perfectly into the existing picture of the park. It is at this fountain that the rectangular-shaped ponds begin. These ponds are also called fish ponds, and to this day they are used for breeding fish. The central axis of the park passes here.
Fontana del Bicchierone
The fountain del Bicquierone looks like a big glass standing at the bottom of a huge shell. It was built a hundred years after the main work. The work belongs to the famous sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Rometta's Fountain (La Rometta)
La Rometta means "Little Rome". In the center of the exposition is a statue of the Victorious Roma, and just below the she-wolf feeding the founders of Rome - Remus and Romulus. All the components of the fountain are made in the style of Rome at that time: arches, obelisks, columns.
Alley of the Hundred Fountains (Le Cento Fontane)
Alley of 100 fountains has an extraordinary enchanting effect, due to the fact that small fan-shaped fountains with cascades covered with soft green moss alternate here. To get to the alley, you have to go past the famous dragon fountain.
Dragon Fountain (Fontana dei Draghi)
The fountain of dragons is made in the form of four dragons, frozen with their backs to each other, and their faces, overthrowing the water, are addressed to visitors.
Organ Fountain (Fontana dell'Organo)
The Organ Fountain is a true miracle of hydraulic engineering. Thanks to its special design, the flowing water makes melodious sounds that burst out through the organ pipe system. Some time ago, the organ did not work due to the large accumulation of salt deposits in the tubes. But thanks to British experts, the fountain sounds again.
How to get there
The best way to get to Villa d'Este is from Rome. Buses leave from the station located near the Ponte Mammolo metro station. Interval of movement - 30 minutes. Tickets cost 3 euros. The bus goes to the main square of the city - piazza Cimitero. Villa d'Este is nearby (Piazza Trento, 5) within walking distance.
You can also be reached by train from Tiburtina Station (Roma Tiburtina). Stop at Tivoli Station. It is important not to confuse here, because along the route there is the Bagni Di Tivoli station, located a few stops to the destination. Finding a villa on your own is not difficult: there are signs along the road.
- Step-by-step instructions on how to get to Tivoli from Rome for 3 euros.
From May to August, you can get to the villa from 8:30 in the morning until 19:45, in the remaining months, the visit starts at 8:30, and ends depending on the length of daylight hours. Entrance is closed on Mondays.
It takes about two hours to slowly walk around the villa d'Este. Some fountains operate according to a schedule. For example, the Organ fountain begins to work at 10:30 and from that time it turns on every 2 hours. Therefore, it is better to think about the time of visiting the villa and how to get back in advance.
- Ticket price - 8 euros, preferential ticket - 4 euros. The presence of additional exhibitions and events can increase the cost of a ticket to 10-11 euros.
- Phone for information: 199 766 166
- Official website: www.villadestetivoli.info