The History of Villa Borghese
Originally a vineyard, Cardinal Sciopione Borghese obtained permission to turn this area into a lavish villa in 1605. The architects were Flaminio Ponzio and Giovanni Vasanzio. The original features included the Villa itself and the historic gardens, presently found behind the Villa, which is now a museum. The rest of the surrounding land was for horticulture and hunting. The Villa and its land has grown and changed throughout the years. These changes are categorized into 4 phases, however for this analysis phase 2 is as far as will be looked at.
Phase 2: 1776-1800
The Villa and land continued to be owned by the Borghese family, during this era they transformed surrounding gardens into neoclassical, English landscape style. The architect of this phase was Antonio Asprucci, while the landscape remodeler was Jacob More ( also a Romantic era painter).
Focus of Analysis: Temple of Aesculapius 1786
Built by Antonio and Mario Asprucci with painter Christopher Unterberger. It was built with the destroyed temple to Aesculapius once found on Tiber Island in mind. It is located on an island in an artificial pond. Originally the surrounding area was rocks and caves, with secretive and serpentine paths, this was changed in 1823 again by the Borghese family and once again when it was first given to the Italian nation.
The Temples Present Condition
The temple is still located in the same spot, and little has been changed directly to the temple. The area around the lake was altered in order to make It more accessible to visitors, this redesign was done in 1823 under the Borghese family. Minor restoration and alteration to the area was made when the park was under the ownership of the city of Rome. The fence surrounding the island is a newer addition from the original. It is not possible to enter the temple, or even access the island, which has been helpful in keeping the temple preserved. It is however possible to take boats around the lake. There is wildlife in the lake, which also live on the island, including: turtles, ducks, swans and other water birds.
The temple stands as an aesthetically pleasing element to the lake, remaining clean and adding to the lake without a visually unpleasing distraction.
Public Use and Facilities within the Area
Though the island and temple are not accessible the park area surrounding is used often for public leisure time. Activities in this area may include picnics or relaxation, biking, as well as children having playtime. The lake provides boats for visitors to take for a ride around the lake. The boats are for rent and are set times, but they do not require a guide.
In the surrounding park there are small café’s and food carts where visitors may get food. Restrooms are however a bit further. There are benches and a few trash bins in the area.
Statement of Significance:
The Temple of Aesculapius remains a key aspect of the Villa Borghese park, by adding an aesthetically pleasing and welcoming interactive element to the park; It also is a key reflection of the 2nd phase of the park, acting as a perfect example of neoclassicism and English Romantic era landscape. Not only is this important to preserve for the history of the park and Borghese family, but also for all, in order to preserve examples of architecture and design from that period.
Analysis of Presentation to the Public
Though the temple itself is not accessible, it provides a picture perfect backdrop, which many visitors enjoy, it is made into one of the standard images of Villa Borghese Park. By providing open park area surrounding the lake and temple, visitors are free to relax, and enjoy themselves in this area. The lake offers an interactive activity by providing boating activities, this may draw in visitors, who can enjoy a fun activity by the temple. This activity, being that it is similar to activities visitors might have enjoyed in the 18th century, provides a connection through time, allowing present day visitors to imagine what life would have been like for the upper class. Because the sight is so beautiful it may provide a connection to visitors based on inspiration, however it may not demonstrate historical importance directly to them. This site does not necessarily increase public respect or understanding, because unless a visitor has done their research, there is no way to tell that this building is a neoclassical building and when it was built. Because there is not a clear story behind this temple, it does not help communicate the importance of cultural heritage. However the public does feel a connection to the site and it has become a staple element to the park which if threatened, the public would react.
Further, presently there is a problem which is that the lake has been drained and therefore the temple has been sealed off and surrounded by construction equipment, which could cause damage to this monument.You can read more here: http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/2002563/villa-borghese-lake-to-be-drained.html