Tivoli Hadrian’s Villa: Poikile, Thermen and Vestibule
The role and the meaning of the buildings are not entirely without controversy. According to the classical author Spartianus, the whole complex is a kind of travel report by Hadrian. Many buildings were named after famous buildings like the school of Aristotle, the academy, or the Poikile, the stoa in Athens. Still, the buildings you find here are not copies of the Greek. On the contrary, they are the personal and original designs by Hadrian himself.It is likely that the different buildings involve the religious roles assumed by the emperor, including all kinds of rituals. For example, the emperor was worshipped as a companion to the gods in the naos, or he compared himself as rule of the cosmos with Jupiter and Helios. The emperor had various nicknames, Aulette (a flute player of Apollo) or Kallinikos (as Heracles). The different buildings served as a place to worship a certain cult. There was also a corridor system beneath the Villa of Hadrian that was used by service personnel.
We follow the signs that list the various constructions. After looking at the scale model, we arrive in the ‘Poikile’. If you walk underneath the gate, you can still see the pond in the middle.
This is also the first building the visitors from Rome would see when arriving at the villa. The complex was more than 200 metres long and a hundred metres wide. It was surrounded by a double colonnade. The 10-metre high wall at the centre of the double colonnade can still be seen today.
Poikile model large Video 3D model (0.24 minutes)
The name, Poikile, is derived from this colossal wall. The building was named after the famous painted column walkway: the Stoa in Athens. Still, this complex was some seven times bigger than its Athenian counterpart. The covered walkways provided enough shade for the visitor. Gardens were in between the pond and the columns. On the east side, we can see the remnants of a building with three exedras. A part of Poikile is supported by a four-story substructure that is clearly positioned lower.
These were likely the living quarters of the service personnel: the so-called One Hundred Rooms. If you walk further south, you will see how these rooms continue all the way to the vestibule.
Small bath remnants (left) Grand bath (right)
Vestibule reconstruction (middle)
We continue south towards the Canopus area. As soon as we head this way, we will first see the remnants of some smaller and larger thermae. The small thermae have an octagonal hall with straight and convex walls. We continue south towards the Canopus area. As soon as we head this way, we will first see the remnants of some smaller and larger thermae. The small thermae have an octagonal hall with straight and convex walls.
This part was likely once an apodyterium, in other words, a dressing room. It is plausible that these baths were used expressly by women. If we continue walking we will see the large thermae not far from the small baths.
Grand bath Other side Central hall Aerial
These were for the men. The large central round hall was probably a sudatio (sauna). We can deduce this from the lack of water pipes. In addition, we can find in succession: the tepidarium (tepid), the caldarium (hot) and a space with three baths. In the middle we find the frigidarium (cold) bath. Both thermae types were used by the service personnel.
If we continue southwards we arrive at the pond aft and er which this part of the Villa Hadrianus was named: the Canopus. The first one you see is a pond of 119 x 18 metres that ends at the Serapis sanctuary. The Canopus was dug out in a small and low-altitude.
Continuation Tivoli Hadrian’s Villa: Canopus and Serapeum