The Villa Borghese Gardens is an English inspired landscape garden in Rome, Italy. It is located North of the Spanish Steps and has two entrances. The park covers 80 hectares and is the third largest park in Rome, after Villa Doria Pamphili and Villa Ada. It is also known as Park of Museums since it is home to several museums in Rome. The park also has statues, fountains, temples and a human-made lake.
The park was originally a vineyard. Its transformation into a park was started in 1605 by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V. He wanted to create a villa with the biggest gardens in Rome. The famous architect Flaminio Ponzio built the villa following sketches from the Cardinal. The gardens’ initial landscapes done by Domenico were formal with geometric shapes. Cardinal Scipione used the villa as a suburban villa, to host parties and house his art collection.
The park was later given a more natural touch. At the end of the 18th century, a human-made lake was created in the middle, with an island hosting a temple dedicated to the god of healing is built. In the 19th century, the park's landscape was remade with an English taste. The city of Rome bought the garden from the Borghese family and it became a public park in 1903.
Villas in the Garden
There are three main villas in Borghese gardens. The main villa, Villa Borghese Pinciana houses the famous art gallery, Galleria Borghese. It also has another gallery, called Casino Borghese. It is made up of sculptures by Bernini and paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian.
The second villa is Villa Giulia which was built as a summer residence for Pope Julius III. It now houses the Etruscan Museum. Villa Medici, the third main villa in the gardens is housed the French Academy in Rome. It also has another gallery, Museo Pietro Canonica inside its gothic structure called Forteleza.
Other smaller villas considered to be remains of a world exposition held in Rome in 1911 are scattered in the gardens. Among them is the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna containing a collection of paintings by Italian artists in the 19th and 20th centuries. There is also the English Pavilion, which houses the British School in Rome.
The Villa Borghese gardens offer tourists a variety of unforgettable and exhilarating experiences. Entry into the park is free but museums’ visits are booked and paid for in advance. This is because the guided tour sessions inside the galleries only accommodate a limited number of people.
There is a zoological garden inside the park which does minimal caging called Bioparco di Roma. It has 1,114 animals of 222 different species. Tourists also rent boats at the park to take rowing trips around the lake alongside swimming ducks, swans and geese.
Apart from walking, one can rent a bike at the park to explore the gardens. The park also offers a puppet theater for children and literature lovers particularly fascinated by Shakespeare are entertained in the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre during summer.