The Villa Doria Pamphilj is a public park just outside the center of Rome in the Gianicolense district. It has a circumference of nine kilometers and a surface of 180 hectares, which makes it the biggest park of the city. Originally the Villa Pamphilj was the summer residence of an aristocratic family. In 1971 it became a public park.
Villa Doria Pamphilj Rome
Opening hours and admission
Opening hours: The Villa Doria Pamhilj is opened from sunrise until sunset. Admission: Free.
The Villa Doria Pamphilj is located on a slope of the Janiculum hill. It is the only one of the Roman villas that has hardly changed in the course of the centuries.
The Via Aurelia Antica, one of Rome’s old consular roads, borders the park on the north, parallel to part of the Trajan Aqueduct.
The park is split in two by the Via Leone XIII, which is part of the Via Olimpica. This road was created in the 1960’s and can only be crossed by a bridge near the Largo Martin Luther King.
In 1630 Panfilio Pamphilj bought a vineyard and a small house from Giacomo Rotolo. When Giovanni Battista Pamphilj in 1644 became Pope Innocent III, he had the complex enlarged by buying more land and palaces in the area.
The sculptor Alessandro Algardi and the painter Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi then were commissioned to construct the villa. It took eight years (1644-16520) to build the Casino del Bel Respiro. Both the interior and exterior were constructed in such a way that there were apposite spaces to place antique sculptures.
Gabriele Valvassori, Francesco Nicoletti and Francesco Bettini restored the villa in the 18th century.
In 1849 the villa was the background for a battle between the troops of the Roman Republic and the soldiers of Napoleon III.
After an expropriation in the 1930’s and the 1960 Olympic Games the park became property of the city of Rome.
The entrance was created in the 19th century, when the original Villa Pamphilj and the Villa Corsini were united. The former entrance was near the Porta San Pancrazio, which was where people traveling along the Via Aurelia entered the city. The design of the so-called Arco dei Quattro Venti (“Arch of the Twenty Winds”) in the park was based on that of the Porta San Pancrazio.
The Palazzina Corsini is located on the square behind the pine forest. It was built in the 17th century, but underwent important modifications between 1866 an 1869. Nowadays it is the seat of the Casa dei Teatri, two libraries and an exhibition space.
Valle dei Daini
The Valle dei Daini is a, rather inaccessible, 60 thousand m² valley that is overgrown with weeds. The valley is named for the fallow deer that used to roam here. When it was still part of the Villa Corsini it was designed like a Tuscan park. From the highest part water dropped from a number of arches into ever lower basins. Underneath this there landscaped gardens and below this the aqueduct was visible. The designer, Giovan Battista de Rossi thus created an interesting perspective.
The Valle dei Daini is also interesting because of the different layers of volcanic stone. In-between those layers there is gold colored sand, which gave the area its old name of Monte d’Oro.
Casino del Bel Respiro
The Casino del Bel Respiro, formerly known as the Palazzo delle Statue, can be seen at the end of the Viale del Maglio. It is a baroque building, which was create partly to accommodate classical statues in all of its nooks and crannies. Algardi and Grimaldi ;worked from 1644 till 1652 at its creation.
Giardino del Teatro
The Giardino del Teatro stems from the same period. In 1852 Andrea Busiri Vici created a number of lanes that wound around Giacomo Della Porta‘s Fountain.
There are several fountains in the garden. Two of the most interesting ones are the Fountain of the Faun and the Fountain of Venus. Other important attractions are the Doria Pamphilj Chapel and the Fountain of the Lily.
The Villa Vecchia is the oldest part of the complex. In order to build it, part of the ruins of the Trajan Aqueduct were reused.
Casale di Giovio
The Casale di Giovio stems from the Imperial Roman time. The monument is located in the eastern part of the park. Originally it was a sepulcher in the shape of a small temple. The entrance was on its west side and led to a big aula. Since the building stands around 140 meters from the Via Aurelia, there is thought to have been an exit towards the Casale.
The northern part of the sepulcher is the side that is best preserved. The first floor and the eastern arm are later additions.
The park has a rollerskating track and even a polo field, although the latter is mostly used to play football. There are also a couple of jogging routes.
A playground and a small lake with an artificial waterfall are located in the part west of the Via Leone XIII.
There are toilets near the entrance to the Casino del Bel Respiro, where the Via Vitellia meets the Via Leone XIII. Showers and luggage lockers can also be used here.