Oh, the places you’ll build! Hadrian’s Villa,Tivoli

Sometimes you just need some space for yourself.
Especially if you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of running an Empire.  This is really important when you feel you are not appreciated by those you rule.  Ungrateful is what they are.
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That’s exactly the position Hadrian found himself in, so he built the modest little Villa Adriana (at Tivoli, near Rome) for himself.
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Well, I understate it a bit: his villa was an exceptional complex of classical buildings created in the 2nd century A.D.. Hadrian’s villa combined the best elements of the architectural heritage of Egypt, Greece and Rome as Hadrian attempted to build himself an ‘ideal city,’ albeit in the country, as his personal retreat.
Representation of the West-side of Hadrian's Villa
The villa was a sumptuous complex of over 30 buildings, covering an area of at least 100 hectares (c. 250 acres), maybe even 300 hectares. Although Hadrian’s Villa is a Unesco world Heritage Site, much of it remains unexcavated.
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Hadrian’s choice of an imperial palace outside Rome, instead one of the several palaces in the city, was probably influenced by the miserable relations he had with the senate and the local Roman aristocracy!
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Hadrian was born in Spain, just like his predecessor Trajan, and the senate and the local aristocracy had trouble coming to terms with another provincial on the imperial throne.
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The way Hadrian had assumed power only reinforced their opposition to him. Trajan adopted Hadrian on his deathbed; this was immediately cast in doubt, and when four military leaders, all Roman aristocrats who had been close to Trajan and hence possible contenders for the throne, were assassinated immediately after Trajan’s death, the senate immediately suspected Hadrian of having ordered the killings.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian and Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian didn’t return to Rome until eleven months after Trajan’s death, and denied any wrongdoing, but his relationship with the senate never recovered from the crisis. As a consequence Hadrian stayed very little in Rome. He travelled extensively throughout most of the empire in two prolonged periods, in 121-125 CE and in 128-134 CE, and when in Italy he avoided Rome.  You see him in the picture above with a representation of his famous wall, built wherever he felt it was needed in his Empire.

Representations of Hadrian's Villa site maps 1

When he absolutely had to be in Rome, he had his villa in Tivoli. Located some 28 km E. of Rome, Tivoli stood on a hillside, surrounded by two minor tributaries to the Aniene.  Thus Tivoli and the villa were easily reached from Rome by land via the Via Tiburtina and by boat on the Aniene, which was navigable at the time.

While I still don’t have access to my pictures from my camera, here’s what I can post until I get them.

In fact, to show off his tastes and inclinations, Hadrian reproduced inside this residence the places and monuments that had fascinated him during his innumerable travels.

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Then there is the Canopus, a long water basin embellished with columns and statues that culminates in a temple topped by an umbrella dome.

 

 

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