Villa Borghese is the largest public park in Rome featuring lakes, temples, fountains, statues and several museums. It is located near Spanish Steps and started as a vineyard in the sixteenth century. In 1605 cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew of Pope Paul V, turned the vineyard into a park.
The park was designed very formal with geometric shapes and built by Flaminio Ponzio according to cardinal’s sketch. At the end of the eighteenth century an artificial lake was created in the middle of the park. On the island in the lake, a small Ionic temple was built. It is dedicated to Aesculapius, the god of healing.
In 1903 the city of Rome obtained Villa Borghese from the Borghese family and opened the park to the public.
In 1911 the World Exposition was held in Villa Borghese. Several of the pavilions built by some of the participating countries still exist. The most impressive of these is the British School, built after a design by Edwin Lutyens. Other buildings represented Austria, Denmark, Romania, Belgium, The Netherlands, Egypt and Sweden.
The Villa Borghese is also called ‘Park of Museums’ due to number of museums housed here. The most famous is the Museo e Galleria Borghese, housed in the Villa Borghese, the building after which the park is named. It has a collection of sculptures with some important works by Canova and Bernini, including ‘Abduction of Proserpina by Pluto’. The Galleria Borghese also houses a collection of paintings from several masters including Titian, Rubens and Raphael.
The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna is located on the grounds of the 1911 World Exposition. The museum has a collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century paintings. It contains mostly works from Italian artists. Not far from the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna is the Museo Nazionale Etrusco. It displays a collection of pre-Roman objects, mostly Etruscan, excavated around Rome. The museum is housed in the Villa Giulia, a villa built in 1553 as the summer residence of Pope Julius II.
Location: Stretching from Piazza del Popolo to Via Veneto, Rome
Nearby sights: Pincio Gardens, Santa maria del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo
How to get there: Subway: Spagna (A), Flaminio (A)
Nearby hotels: Aldrovandi Residence City Suites, Hotel Eliseo, Aldrovandi Villa Borghese