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Current time:0:00Total duration:8:04

Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli: A virtual tour

Video transcript

here we are in a virtual world that recreates Hadrian's villa the way that it looked in the second century AD created by dr. Bernie Fisher and Bernie you're here in the virtual world with us yes I'm really hot Dorian Lewis you're seeing me right now so this is really my place I built it between 117 and when I died in 138 and now I've come back to earth and to life to show you around and I noticed that you have a beard but I don't think most Emperor's did before you one ancient biographer said it was because I had acne and I was trying to hide it but that is not true the real reason is I loved Athens and the Athenian philosophical schools and all philosophers wore beards and here we are in your villa which is located outside of Rome so how long did you work on this really from the moment I became Emperor in 117 I started thinking wouldn't it be good to have a government retreat outside of Rome but near Rome and one reason that I thought that was it unfortunately my early days as Emperor in 117 I had to put three senators to death so that always made me a little bit sheepish about being in Rome how big is this villa well you would say about 200 250 acres and there are 30 major building complexes I was an amateur architect and I just kept building and building a maniac when it came to building my predecessor and relatives chief architect Apollodorus of Damascus said some very unkind things about a building I designed in Rome so I forced him to commit suicide but that just shows how much I loved architecture there are libraries here there are temples there are living quarters there are baths there are sculpture gardens ponds and fountains there are dining halls indoor winter dining halls and outdoor summer dining halls so you really can have a good time here all year round and it's kind of a city in miniature aroma in miniature this was fabulously decorated none of that lower class painted fresco for me we used only cut marble on the walls and on the floors and we brought in marbles from all over the Empire to use here even you know we're now looking at this obelisk right in front of me granite from Egypt this is somehow expressive of the power of Rome and all of its wealth and resources could you take us on a tour some of the highlights of your villa I would be happy to do that so just follow me and we'll go out to a road that's in front we can see that the end of the road is a big structure called the vestibule by you moderns that was the receiving area for all important guests coming from Rome and you know when you arrive you tend to be a bit grimy and tired so right next to the vestibule we put a beautiful bath building and then when you finish bathing you could have a meal and then if I did receive you it would have been in one of the many audience halls in the villa is a hall that could actually have held hundreds of people and the villa in its heyday for example in the Senate visited me out here could have had hundreds of guests this is a very first reception hall I noticed these lovely views when I look through the doorways and the windows I'm very interested in views and I'm very interested in directing the gaze of the viewer to what I want him or her to see right now we're looking straight ahead at a very famous part of the villa which I think occurs in many textbooks of your young students it's called the Canopus and I put one of my most creative pieces of architecture there it's actually a curved colonnade and the part of the colonnade above the columns we call the architrave it's actually arched underneath the arches I put some of my favorite statues I want to make sure that even at the moment of arrival my important visitors would be able to see and admire my design and your a sculpture that decorated the villa this was all inspired by ancient Greek sculpture but also some ancient Egyptian sculpture I had copies made of my favorite types of Egyptian and Greek and even Roman sculpture but I also commissioned some new pieces I had two highly talented sculptors who worked for me I brought from aphrodisias in the middle of modern-day Turkey Pappas and Aris Dias and they made some beautiful pieces I am told are still well Reserve today and can be seen in the capital I'm Museum could you take us to see the so called Canopus I'd be happy to we're down in the Canopus at the end looking toward one of my very favorite parts of the villa the so called sarap am temple of Serapis this is not a temple at all really but an outdoor dining area where we love to eat in the summer so I mentioned that after you arrive in the vestibule and bathe you might be invited to an audience with me but you also might be invited directly to dine with me you can see how I cleverly designed this place to be very refreshing because it's filled with cascades of water from my own private aqueduct the semicircular structure right in front of us is a so-called stew body emits a big couch and we could have 20 or 30 diners banqueting with us on that couch of course we would put down our cushions right now you're looking at a colonnade with Corinthian capitals one thing you don't see is something I loved and that I revived in other parts of the villa the Doric order not so frequently used in Roman Imperial architecture where everything before me tended to be Corinthian but I loved the Doric order as well again it reminds me of Athens and Greece I also heard you were a religious man I am there's no one more religious to me after all I am a future God and therefore have to maintain respect for the gods I build temples all over the place including right here at the villa should we go visit one so we've just teleported from the SARP am to the so called Rocca Brunner that's just a modern name on top is a temple in the Doric order but even more interesting is the sanctuary of the goddess Isis that I put in a rotunda below if you look around the sanctuary there we can see the priests we have a rotunda here it's actually 2/3 the size of the Pantheon the candelabra that we see in front of us are decorated with the bases that have images pertaining to the cult of Isis we can see in front of us the statue of Isis she's now in a museum of Rome Isis was the Queen of Heaven as such she rules over not only the earth but the sky and her festival in Rome was on the summer solstice we turned our clock back to the summer solstice at sunset and now we look at the Statue we can see how I have aligned the Statue in the niche exactly so that at sunset it would be all lit up on the summer solstice it's fabulous and there's a frescoed ceiling in the dome there is the ceiling had a dome of heaven motif that I put in with the Sun God on his chariot at the peak of a dome the zodiac the lower register of the dome and look what we find right over Isis we find the twins Gemini I put them there because the last day of Gemini is the summer solstice so this is all oriented very much towards the summer solstice and sunset on the summer solstice because that is a day very important to Isis I'm honored that you gave us this tour thank you you're welcome you you