The two pavilions atop the north side of the Palatine Hill are almost all that remain of the famous Farnese Gardens (Horti Farnesiani).
The gardens, the first private botanical gardens in Europe, were created by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520-89), a wealthy nephew of Pope Paul III (r. 1534-49).
The Farnese Gardens were laid out in a series of terraces, as can be seen in an engraving by Giuseppe Vasi (1710-82). The two pavilions, which have lost their original open roofs, were once aviaries.
By the time Vasi published his engraving in 1761, the gardens had already entered a long period of decline. The male branch of the Farnese family had become extinct and the gardens had passed to the Bourbons of Naples.
In 1861 Francis II, the last King of Naples, sold the gardens to Emperor Napoleon III of France, who in turn sold them to the Italian government in 1870.
The grand entrance to the gardens survives and can now be found on Via di San Gregorio.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
Search Walks in Rome: