It is worth noting that within Villa d’Este and Tivoli’s historical landscape there is Villa Adriana, the prestigious remains of an ancient villa built by the emperor Hadrian (Publius Aelius Hadrianus) between 118 and 138 AD.
Looking for a greener and water-rich territory, the emperor Hadrian moved his residence to Tivoli, 28 kms away from Rome. Here, on the tuff-rich banks of the river Aniene, at the foot of the Tiburtini Mountains, and on a plateau between two ditches, Villa Adriana was built, covering an area of nearly 120 hectares.
The Sanctuary of Ercole Vincitore
Another important monument within the garden in Villa d’Este’s landscape is the Sanctuary of Ercole Vincitore. Built during the 2nd century BC, it was one of the major sacred complexes of Roman architecture in the Republican era. It is an imposing structure, built with a series of terraces, overlooking the river Aniene developed along an ancient cattle route, later formalised as via Tiburtina.
Following its decline as place of worship, for centuries it was used used as a shelter, a convent, a foundry, a hydroelectric power station and ultimately paper factory. In the Middle Ages, Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, Governor of Tivoli, had his villa built in a borough of the city named the Valle Gaudente. Here, he employed teams of master builders to remodel the sloping landscape to make a terraced garden.