Winter is fading, and crisp spring sunshine is once again peering through at us. Clear blue skies, fresh blooms and chirping of birds are signs that spring is here. The parks and gardens in Rome come alive with bursts of colours. However, not all gardens are created equal; the Villa Borghese Gardens is a standing testimony of that. Featuring grand fountains, temples, museums, statues, a lake, a botanical garden and much more, the Borghese Gardens is an oasis of beauty, grandeur and history. It is also the third largest public park in Rome and intensely popular amongst the tourists and local inhabitants alike.
A Quick History
Steeped in history, art and wealth, Villa Borghese is the grand legacy of Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The history of the park dates back to the 16th century, when the estate, which was then a rambling vineyard, was acquired by Scipione Borghese. He was the nephew of Pope Paul V and an ardent art enthusiast and collector of that time. Due to his obsession with the power of art, he commissioned the construction of the Garden Villa (now known as Galleria Borghese) in 1613 and began transforming a simple chateau into a marvellous expanse of rare beauty and artistry. He appointed the iconic landscaper Domenico Savino da Montepulciano and the famed architect Flaminio Ponzio, who made Villa Borghese an ornate lung of Rome.
The sole intention behind such a move was to showcase his impressive artistic treasures and win appraise of his high-brow visitors. Over time, the Borghese family annexed the surrounding lands to further expand their property.
In 1903, the villa and the gardens of the Borghese family were opened to the public.
Art and Antiquities
Touted as the ‘Park of Museums’, Villa Borghese, spreading across 80 hectares is an amazing medley of villas, lakes, monuments, sculptures and manicured gardens. Besides, it is home to many museums, including the Borghese Gallery, which stands above all. Exhibiting masterpieces by renowned Italian artists, such as Bernini, Raphael, Caravaggio and Canova, the museum is one of a kind.
Key highlights of the Borghese gallery include a host of Bernini statues, namely the Rape of Proserpina, Apollo and Daphne and Aeneas, Anchises & Ascanius, the revered Sleeping Hermaphrodite statue and several awe-inspiring paintings by Raphael, Caravaggio and Titian.
Moreover, 228 busts of great Italian architects, sculptors, poets and statesmen are found dotting the park. They are all brilliant works of art and attract immediate attention. Also, there are numerous villas within the confines of the park, including Villa Medici and Villa Giulia. If you are a sucker of All-Things-Art, you must visit these artistic jewels and take in everything they offer.
Spectacular Views of Rome
Close to the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese is an artistic paradise and a tranquil refuge in the middle of modern Rome! The park is easily accessible through the Porta del Popolo; once you leave the Piazza del Popolo, cross the Piazzale Flaminio and enter into the park. Perched atop the Pincian Hill, facing the west, the park offers scintillating sweeping views of Rome, especially during the Golden Hour (of sunset).
For splendid photo opportunities, head out to the Pincio Terrace accessible via Galleria Borghese. The bird’s eye view from the terrace is all-encompassing, reaching straight to the gleaming dome of St. Peter’s Basilica (best explored with Vatican and Sistine Chapel tours), and downright magical!
If you need a quick break from the cacophony of modern Rome, the Villa Borghese is the most idyllic location to head to. However, it can never replace the experience of witnessing the must-visit historical wonders of Rome, such as the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Pantheon. With our best family tours in Rome, you can have these historic treasures all to yourself. Moreover, our expert guides ensure you have a detailed account of all these places from their history to present-day restoration activity.
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