Discover Villa Borghese | History, Rooms, Visitor Tips & more
Villa Borghese, the building which houses the Borghese Gallery today, rose in the early seventeenth century. It initially consisted of just the Villa and later many more plots were added to this property. Located in the heart of Rome, the Villa was built in 1605 by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V. It formerly housed the private art collection of the Cardinal.
Today, Villa Borghese is a world-class museum that ranks on the list of top museums in Italy. The museum is home to hundreds of art collections, antiques and sculptures spread across 20 rooms. Villa Borghese also houses one of the largest parks in Rome, named Borghese gardens. Being a famous tourist destination, Villa Borghese in Rome attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Keep scrolling to find the brief and all the information on the Villa Borghese to plan a hassle-free visit!
Why visit Villa Borghese?
- Palatial allure - Villa Borghese was designed and built by Scipione Borghese with an artistic suit where he threw lavish garden parties to showcase his art collection.
- One of the top galleries in Europe - The Villa Borghese in Rome is known for being home to world-class art and paintings collections.
- More than 90 attractions - Along with the Borghese Villa, you can also explore around 90 attractions spread across 80 hectares in Rome.
- Discover Villa Borghese Pinciana - Take a stroll through the villa to admire the history of Borghese Villa which also housed the Cardinal’s private collection along with the wide array of paintings, sculptures, and antiquities on display.
Discover the Rooms of Villa Borghese
The Villa has 2 floors with a total of 20 lavish rooms decorated with paintings, sculptures and antiques of well-known artists.
Marianna Rossi Hall
This is the entrance to Villa Borghese and its most promonent feature is the ceiling by Marianna Rossi. This huge hall with monumental sculptures and decorations were part of Prince Marcantonio's renovations.
One the most famous sculptures of the Borghese collection made my Antonio Canova, the statue of Paolina Borghese Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, is on display here.
Bernini's life-size sculpture of David is placed in the center of this room. It was orginally called the 'Room of the Sun' due to the presence of the Fall of Phaeton in the center of the ceiling.
Apollo and Daphne Room
Bernini's life-sized Baroque marble sculpture, Apollo and Daphne is housed here along with works of Dosso Dossi, Giovanni Battista Marchetti and paintings representing Daphne's Metamorphoses on the ceiling.
Room of the Emperors
This room gets it name from the 18 alabaster and porphyry busts of theTwelve Caesars and Goddess Juno. The room also features paintings of Domenico de Angelis and Marchetti's architectural trompe l’oeil (3D optical illusion).
The famous sculpture of Hermaphrodite gives this room its name. Oil paintings of Nicola Buonvicini, Marchetti's murals, works of Vincenzo Pacetti and Paul Brill are also on display here.
Aeneas and Anchises Room
Bernini's marble group with Aeneas and Anchises is placed right in the center of this room along with the paintings of Laurent Pécheux on the ceiling and those of Jean Baptiste Tierce.
This room has Marchetti's architectural trompe l’oeils representing the Egyptian planetary gods and Conca's celing paintings depicting Anthony and Cleopatra.
The last room on the ground floor has 12 paintings by Caravaggio, Cavalier d’Arpino's famous works and masterpieces of Cigoli, Dirck van Baburen and Giovanni Baglione.
The ceiling of this room is decorated with the story of Apolo and Dido by Anton von Maron. Other works on display here are of Perugino, Pinturicchio, Bartolomeo, Botticelli, Andrea del Sarto and Raphael.
The room gets its name from the five paintings of Hercules on the ceiling by Christoph Unterberger. Other notable artworks featured in this room include those of Brescianino, Niccolò dell’Abate, Correggio, Girolamo da Carpi and Nicolas Cordier.
Room of Ferrarese Painting
Known as the "Little Gallery" and later as the “Gallery of portraits of women“ before Marcantonio Borghese's renovation phase, the Tale of Ganymede by Vincenzo Berrettini is featured on the ceiling along with artworks of Ortolano and Mazzolino displayed in the room.
Room of the Bacchantes
This room gets its name from Felice Giani's fresco on the ceiling depicting three dancing women with decorations of festoons, floral motifs and musical instruments all around. Nordic works from the early 16th century and Leonardo Da Vinci's Leda and Lorenzo Lotto's Portrait of A Gentleman are the masterpieces here.
Felice Giani's Allegory of Fame is placed right in the centre and the landscapes displayed here are of Giovanni Campovecchio. Elegantly decorated in an antiquarian style, the room also features famous artworks of Francesco Ubertini, Giovanni di Lorenzo Larciani and Alonso Berruguete.
This room houses Giovanni Lanfranco's Council of Gods and Claude Deruet's Assumption present. Most artworks in this room are from the 17th century epitomizing two pictorial currents of the time - the classic revival style and intensely expressed Caravaggesque naturalism.
The ceiling represents the Twilights of Dawn and Dusk and the Allegory of Aurora in three notable paintings by Domenico Corvi. Giovan Battista Marchetti decorated the walls with grotesques, zodiac signs, medallions etc. The room also has a sculpture depicting the allegory of Sleep by Alessandro Algardi right in the centre.
Domenico De Angelis represents Flora as the mother of flowers and plants. The vegetal volutes and trompe-oeil decorations are painted by Giovan Battista Marchetti. The room also displays paintings of Marcello Venusti, Pellegrino Tibaldi and Jacopo Zucchi.
Count of Angers Room
The Recognition of Gaultier and Count of Angers are notable paintings by Giuseppe Cades dominating the ceiling in this room. The paintings displayed here are Flemish and Dutch artworks of the 17th century acquired by Antonio Asprucci. Gaspare Landi and Pompeo Batoni's famous works are also present here.
Jupiter and Antiope Room
This room has the Quadro Riportato by Bénigne Gagneraux featured on the ceiling along with decorations executed by Vincenzo Berrettini. Collections of Pietro da Cortona, noteworthy artworks of Roman Baroque portraiture, and paintings of Pieter Paul Rubens as well as Andrea Sacchi are also displayed here.
Helen and Paris Room
Gavin Hamilton and Giovan Battista Marchetti's decorations are featured on the ceiling in this room. Sculptures of Agostino Penna and Vincenzo Pacetti are also present. Other masterpieces here are the works of Domenichino, Federico Barocci and Giovanni Lanfranco.
With Pietro Antonio Novelli decorations on the ceiling, the room comes to be called the Psyche room as it represents the tale of Cupid and Psyche. Paintings of Giovan Battista Marchetti, Antonello da Messina, Titian, Giovanni Bellini and ornamental pieces by Agostino Penna are displayed here.
Brief History of Villa Borghese
17th century - The Rise of Villa Borghese
Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V, was an influential art collector and investigator. He was given charge of the Vatican art collection and he used that power to create a private collection of his own. He started turning his vineyard in Pincian hill into the largest gardens in Rome and also commissioned the construction of Villa Borghese Pinciana in 1605, under the architect Flaminio Ponzio, to house his magnificent artworks. After his death, the work was carried on by Jan van Santen.
Cardinal's Art Collection in Villa Borghese
Cardinal Scipione was passionate about art and wanted to establish a symbol of the prestige of the Borghese family. In 1607, the Pope gave him 107 paintings that were confiscated from Cavalier D'Arpino's studio. His collection also included works of Caravaggio, Bernini and Raphael. His estates were expanded with vast “secret gardens” and palatial complexes like the Villa Borghese to house all his artworks.
The Villa and other places covered almost eighty hectares of land that was divided into three “enclosures” with parks, fountains and also an animal menagerie. The Cardinal often threw lavish parties in the Borghese Villa for a private display of his collection.
18th - 19th century
After the death of Cardinal Borghese, Prince Marcantonio IV Borghese redesigned the Villa between 1730 - 1800. The famous architects Antonio and Mario Asprucci made major changes to the Casino Nobile and Villa under the direction of the Prince. He replaced the outdated tapestries and leather hangings of the Borghese Villa. He also rearranged the sculptures and antiquities of the Borghese according to the thematic criterion, which was welcomed and appreciated by Roman society. After Marcantonio IV, Prince Camillo Borghese sold some Borghese sculptures and antiquities in 1808 and they can be seen in the Louver Museum in Paris. At the end of the 19th century, the villa went public and admissions were accepted in Villa Borghese with payment.
Post the unification of Italy
Villa Borghese came in between the possessions of the Borghese family and the Italian state after the unification of Italy in 1861. In 1901, the Italian Government bought the entire monumental estate and sold it to the Municipality of Rome. Since then it has been open to the public to explore and admire its vast art collection.
Today, Villa Borghese is a glorious fusion of art, architecture and nature, hosting public exhibitions and distinguished artistic events.
Plan Your Visit to Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese is located in the heart of Rome and houses the world-famous Borghese Gallery. You can take a bus to the gallery and get off at the Pinciana Museo Borghese stop. From there it is just a 2-minute walk to your destination.
Address: Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM, Italy.
There are some notable Italian restaurants and cafes in and around the Villa Borghese park premises that you can enjoy:
- Casina Valadier - neoclassical style restaurants perfect for romantic dinners and special occasions
- Mirabelle - enjoy authentic Italian gastronomic traditions with a creative touch in this fine-dining restaurant
- Terrazza Borghese - Enjoy delicious Italian cuisine with a nice view of the Borghese Gardens
- Babbette - Indulge in some authentic French and Italian food in this outdoor bistro with a tranquil courtyard seating
- Pauline Borghese Restaurant - Stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner at this fine-dining Italian restaurant
You can find comfortable stays around Villa Borghese that suits your budget:
Combo (Save 5%): Vatican Museums + Borghese Gallery Tickets
Frequently Asked Questions about Villa Borghese
A. Villa Borghese was built in 1605.
A. Villa Borghese was built by Cardinal Scipione Borghese.
A. No, there is no dress code for entering the Villa Borghese.
A. You can get to Villa Borghese in Rome by bus, metro or car. By bus - take bus 360, 495, 52, 53, 63, 83 or 92 and alight at the Pinciana Museo Borghese stop. By metro - Take Line A metro to Piazza di Spagna.
A. The Villa Borghese consists of 20 rooms that feature antiques, sculptures, and many paintings.
A. Scipione Borghese used to live and throw private parties at the Villa Borghese. He also held private displays of his magnificent art collection.
A. The Italian government has owned Villa Borghese in Rome since 1903.
Yes, Villa Borghese is worth visiting as it offers art, paintings, sculptures, picturesque gardens, and mesmerizing views for visitors. Book the Villa Borghese tickets in advance to avoid huge crowds.
A. The Borghese Villa is located in the Villa Borghese park which houses around 90 attractions that you can explore and enjoy. Some of these are the Borghese gardens, Temple of Asclepius, Water Clock, Carlo Bilotti Museum, Casina de Raffaello, Pincio Terrace, Bioparco di Roma etc.
A. The best time to visit Villa Borghese is during spring, between April and June as well as September to October is a pleasant time to visit Villa Borghese. Avoid summer as it is the peak tourist season with heavy crowds.