Tuesday, September 8, 2020



Via della Navicella 12

1572/86 for Ciriaco Mattei. It is also known as Villa Mattei

In 1851 it passed to Princess Marianne of Orange-Nassau, daughter of King William I of the Netherlands, and in 1856, it was bought by Princess Laura Bauffremont

In 1869 it was bought by the German baron Richard Hoffmann who erected the AEDICULA-SMALL TEMPLE in neo-Gothic style, leaning against the wall surrounding the villa

It is a park of about 110,000 square meters (27 acres), made public in 1928 after the seizure of the villa by the Italian state after the First World War: the owner was German and therefore an enemy

In ancient times here the BARRACKS OF THE FIFTH COHORT OF THE FIRE BRIGADE was located with remnants dating back to the Trajan period (98/118) seen in 1820, 1931 and 1958

Two inscriptions inside the villa confirm the identification

The PORTAL was moved here in 1931 from Villa Massimo at the Lateran

"Ciriaco Mattei, with great magnanimity, had allowed the opening of his garden to the Roman people, at least once a year, on the occasion of the pilgrimage to the Seven Churches founded by St. Philip Blacks: the faithful in fact, at the halfway mark, had the possibility of relax for a while in the so called 'circus' of Villa Mattei and consume a meal offered by the Filippini fathers, which consisted of a loaf of bread, wine, an egg, two slices of salami, a piece of cheese and two apples each. The preparation of the villa in that circumstance required a large organization, catering for up to 3530 people. Following a strict division by rank and social status, in the semicircular 'theater' cardinals and prelates took place, in the 'sheep pen' nobles and qualified persons and on the 'lawn' and on the paths everyone else" (Official website of the Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, Capitoline Superintendent to Cultural Heritage - www.sovraintendenzaroma.it)


Main Building of the Villa

1586 Jacopo Del Duca (about 1520/1604)

Renovated in the nineteenth century

Since 1926 is the seat of the Società Geografica Italiana (Italian Geographic Society) with a library of over 250,000 volumes about geography, the largest Italian library on the subject


Embedded in the floor there is an ancient mosaic from the Roman period

In the vault "Spring receiving the vase with flowers from Apollo among figures representing the seasons" about 1620 by Andrea Lilio (about 1555/1632)

Obelisco di Villa Celimontana

Obelisk of the Celimontana Villa

About 1250 BC, built for Pharaoh Ramses II (1297/1213 BC)

When it was brought to Rome maybe was placed in the Temple of Isis on the Capitoline Hill

The upper part is original and it is 2.68 m (8.8 feet) high

With the lower part, the base and the globe it reaches 12.23 m (40 feet)

It had been raised on the Capitoline Hill in late 1100s or early 1200s on a pedestal with four lions apparently sculpted in the Middle Ages between Palazzo Senatorio (Palace of the Senate) and St. Mary in Capitolio that occupied the present transept of S. Maria in Aracoeli

It became a symbol of the City and of the Senate of the renewed Roman Republic

The Roman Senate gave it in 1582 to Ciriaco Mattei, who placed it in his villa on the Celium Hill known as Villa Celimontana

In 1820 the villa became property of Emanuele Godoi who had the obelisk moved to another section of the park, where it currently is

While it was almost suspended and placed on the pedestal, the ropes that held it broke and a worker, who was sweeping the pebbles off the basement, had an arm and a hand crushed under the obelisk and their remains are still there. Apparently the poor worker went mad and was compensated with a house and a pension

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