Cardinal virtuesThe Villa Borghese Gardens are exquisite grounds covering 80 hectares in the centre of Rome, and today make up one of Rome’s largest public parks. The gardens were built in 1605 by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who was a nephew to Pope Paul V. He constructed these elaborate gardens on the land which had formerly been his personal vineyard, and which before that was the site of the Gardens of Lucullus, the most famous in the Roman Empire.
Indeed, the Villa Borghese Gardens were the most extensive gardens to be built in Rome since the extravagance of the Empire. The Gardens are built in an English style, but the connection with ancient Roman gardens was intentionally emphasised and the design of the Villa Borghese incorporates many classical Roman architectural elements and even Roman religious features. This is evident in the modern Temple to Aesculapius which was included as an ornamental feature on one of the lakes.
The Gardens boast plenty of attractions including statues, fountains, and an Egyptian obelisk; numerous villas are scattered throughout, such as the Villa Medici and the Galleria Borghese
. There is even a zoo, and a reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Should you wish to visit the park today there are a number of points of entry, including the Flaminio entrance just across from the famous Roman Porta Flaminia, the gate to modern day Piazza del Popolo; or you may enter by the renowned Spanish Steps, which lead right up to the park.
Today it is typical to find lots of people enjoying its green spaces, holding public events, or picnicking in the shady trees in summer time. The Villa Borghese Gardens offer a chance to escape the fast pace of the city, and make for a great day out combined with the nearby gallery.