The Villa Borghese is the third largest park in Rome and one of the most beautiful places in the Eternal City. This villa is often used for dates and wedding photo shoots: the park attracts lovers by quiet secluded area, romantic atmosphere, beautiful views of Rome from viewing platforms and a variety of places of interest. Many people come here with children – there is a lot of attractions and entertainments in the park.
The Villa Borghese is situated on the Pincian Hill, occupying an area of about 80 hectares (148 acres). Earlier, this place was used for gardens and vineyards. The park itself appeared here only in the 17th century under the order of Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The Villa Borghese alleys were decorated with skilfully crafted statues and sculptures. In 1807, many of them were sold to Napoleon.
In the 18th century, the park was redesigned by architect Aspruchchi. At that time, there was a very beautiful artificial lake in the middle of the park. But in the early 19th century, another architect Luigi Canina changed the Villa Borghese again that gave the park an appearance it has today.
In 1903, when there was no direct heirs, the Villa Borghese was transferred to state ownership and was renamed in honor of the King of Italy Umberto I. However, the new name never became general among the Romans and the park is still known as it was called originally. In the same year, the first attractions for children appeared there and 8 years later, in 1911, the existing zoo was opened.
The Villa Borghese is not only a beautiful landscape park, but also a collection of attractions in the open air. Walking along the alleys, you will see unusual, beautiful sculptures, a fountain at the very villa and the temple of Asclepius, Greek and Roman god of healing, in the middle of the lake. The lake itself also deserves to be mentioned: it is stunningly beautiful! Due to its magnificence, couples in love and newlyweds have their photos taken there all the time.
The park also includes the Zoological Museum (Italian: Museo Civico di Zoologia), the Hippodrome, where not only races are held, but also the annual horse shows and a well-known Globe Theatre, where mostly Shakespeare’s plays are performed.
You can reach the park having climbed another Rome’s landmark – the Spanish Steps. It consists of 138 steps from Piazza di Spagna to an observation deck which offers an amazing view of the area. The Spanish Steps are not the only way to get into the park. The second entrance is at the Porte del Popolo by Piazza del Popolo.
Since the park is very big, it is much better to walk and look for interesting sights using a map.
The museum complex
A real gem of the Villa Borghese is the museum complex located in the center of the park. It consists of the National Gallery of Modern Art (Italian: Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna), the Borghese Gallery (Italian: Galleria Borghese) and the National Etruscan Museum (Italian: Museo Nazionale Etrusco).
The Borghese Gallery
The Galleria Borghese was built by Cardinal Scipio Borghese. At the time of his death, the collection of paintings, sculptures and other art objects consisted of about 800 exhibits, among which were the original canvases by Raphael, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Titian and other brilliant artists of the Italian Renaissance.
Now, the Galleria Borghese occupies the first and second floors of the villa which is located in the park. Among its exhibits, there are ancient sculptures in good condition, an extensive collection of Roman emperors busts created in the 16th century and canvases of the 15-18th centuries.
- Address: Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: from 9 a.m. till 07 p.m. (last admittance 1 hour before closing time), Monday, 1st January, 1st May, 25th December and Tuesday after Easter Monday: closed.
- Ticket price: € 13 (full price), € 8.50 (reduced), € 2 (for children under 18y.o. and seniors older than 65, who are EU citizens).
- It is included in the Roma Pass, and you may visit it as one of your main free-entry sites
- You have to make a reservation in advance
- Phone: +39 06 32810
- Official website: www.galleriaborghese.it
The National Etruscan Museum
Earlier, the Villa Giulia was papal summer recreation area. Now, it is a large museum dedicated to the culture of the Etruscans, named the National Etruscan Museum. The museum’s collection includes a variety of items of ancient Etruscan art: sarcophagi, statues, jewelry, vases, bronze and copper items. A ticket to the museum costs 4 euro, opening hours are from 8:30 a.m. till 07:30 p.m. Days off: every Monday, Catholic Christmas on December 25th and New Year on January 1st.
- Address: Piazzale di Villa Giulia, 9, 00197 Roma
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: from 8:30 a.m. till 07:30 p.m. (last admittance 1 hour before closing time), Monday, 1st January, 1st May, 25th December and Tuesday after Easter Monday: closed.
- Ticket price: € 8 (full price), € 4 (reduced).
- Phone: +39 06 320 1706
- Official website: villagiulia.beniculturali.it
The National Gallery of Modern Art
The National Gallery of Modern Art is located in the Villa Borghese gardens, in a luxurious building of the early 20th century. By now, it contains more than 5,000 exhibits, among which: the canvases by Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Cezanne and other great masters of painting. The exposition of the gallery covers the period of the 19-20th centuries.
- Address: Viale delle Belle Arti, 131, 00196 Roma,
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: from 8:30 a.m. till 07:30 p.m. (last admittance 45 minutes before closing time), Monday, 1st January, 1st May, 25th December and Tuesday after Easter Monday: closed.
- Ticket price: € 8 (full price), € 4 (reduced).
- Phone: +39 06 322981
- Official website: www.gnam.beniculturali.it
How to get
- Metro: Line A, station: Spagna
- Train: FC3, station: Flaminio
- Tram: № 2, 3, 19 (tram stops: Galleria Arte Moderna or Aldrovandi or Rossini-Bioparco)
- Bus: № 61, 89, 160, 490, 495 (bus stops: Del Fiocco-Valle Giulia or Victor Hugo or San Paolo Del Brasile), 223, 910 (bus stop: Bioparco-Mercadante).