The Villa Celimontana Gardens stretch around a mid 16th century villa, a former property of the Mattei family. The villa and its gardens lie on a site from where plenty of archeological excavations were carried out in time, leading to the discovery of findings which date back to the era when Rome was ruled by Emperor Trajan. Before the purchase of property by Giacomo Mattei, the land was a vineyard, but the landscaping and architectural enhancement plans of the owner raised the vineyard to the ground, in order to make way to the villa and to park.

The gardens (also known as the Celio Park or even Villa Mattei) are located between the Coliseum and the Baths of Caracalla, and they were designed by Giovanni Fontana and Domenico Fontana, in the second half of the 16th century. Their decorative patrimony used to comprise several fountains, and the main entrance gate was realized at the beginning of the 17th century by Carlo Lombardi (though moved here no sooner than 1931, from Villa Giustiniani). Also worthy of attention is the obelisk to which the main alley of the park leads. Its present location was established in 1817, but the obelisk has been part of the garden since the late 16th century (it was bestowed to Ciriaco Mattei by the Roman Senate, and constructed of elements brought from the Heliopolis, as well as of elements of unknown origin).

The park has been the property of the Municipality of Rome since 1926. That was also the moment when the villa on the estate was granted to the Italian Society of Geography (even at present it is the headquarters of the society, being home to one of Italy’s most prized collections of maps). The gardens are also home to several international music (jazz) festivals which gather here fans and performers from all over the world.

Villa Celimontana Gardens (Villa Celimontana / Villa Mattei)
Via della Navicella, Rome, Italy