Ancient Rome

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In the history of ancient Rome three epochs are separated. The epoch of kings (VIII -VI c. B.C.) is characterized by the forming of the slaveholding system. The epoch of republic (VI- I c. B.C.) - Rome is separated as a city-state. Its territorial achievements were completed by the accumulation of enormous riches, which made it possible to widely develop houses. The epoch of empire (I- V c. A.D.) - Rome is established as the state center. Town construction increases rapidly: the construction of ensembles, public forums, stadiums, theatres, emperor palaces and villas increases. The composition of the architectural ensembles is improved. By the end of III c. A.D. the decline of the slaveholding system caused a crisis in the empire. In 410. A.D. the Roman empire fell under the attacks of  the Visigoths. The greatest bloom of  landscaping in ancient Rome occurred from I c. B.C. to I c. A.D. The climate of the Apennine peninsula was Mediterranean, but softer and less arid than in Greece. The abundance of water in the form of rivers and channels was characteristic, as well as mountainous relief, presence of valuable construction materials (marble and limestone) and a broad spectrum of trees, shrubs and flowering plants. Different forms of pine trees, oaks, cypress, sycamores, strawberry trees, poplars, chestnut edibles, pomegranates, olives and other fruits grew here. There were also types of trees which are well suited for trimming such as boxwood, laurel, myrtle. Flowers such as lily, gillyflower, irises, tulips, narcissuses, violet, carnation and other were popular.

The landscaping of ancient Rome was developed on the basis of the traditions of Ancient Greece. Using the achievements of Egyptian and Greek culture, Romans created their park culture, which, until now is considered one of the richest in the ancient worlds history. Ancient Roman landscaping is different from Ancient Greek. The new element of landscaping - peristyle - in which the courtyards of ancient Roman houses were decorated with ponds and columns. These are a further improvement of the methods of Ancient Greece. Special features such as use of sculptures in the decoration of gardens, neatly trimmed and shaped shrubs and trees - topiary, alleys, arbors are created. By I c. A.D. new types of gardens such as sacred groves, gardens in villas, public gardens, peristyle gardens and hippodrome gardens appeared.

• Sacred groves - are connected with religion. As in Greece their territory was occupied with small temples, water sources, chapels and altars;

• Urban public gardens - the emperor built these gardens around public buildings like theatres and therms because he cared about his citizens. They were arranged over the areas and they were different sizes. They were similar to contemporary recreational parks in some ways, since they had alleys, groups of trees, covered galleries with niches for relaxations. Ponds and ponds, which were decorated with sculptures, were always present.

• Urban private gardens - were insignificant and were added after the planning of the house. The atrium-peristyle type house was formed in ancient Rome, in volume of which were found courtyards which were surrounded by colonnades, decorated by sculptures, shrubs and flowers, and decorated with pools and ponds. The sizes of such courtyard were different: 9x20m (in the House of Vette) , 28x22m (in the House of Faun). The walls of the galleries, which surrounded courtyard, were decorated with paintings of plants. Such courtyards were called peristyle.

• Gardens in villas and palaces - had different purposes - from the purely economic to entertainment. These gardens were arranged on the stepped terraces were decorated with flowers, fountains, sculptures and other architectural structures. The terraces were connected together by stairs, however, as in Greece, stairs did not have composition value yet.

Hippodrome gardens - The Romans borrowed this idea from the Greeks. In Rome it lost its purpose as a place for sport competitions, but nevertheless they preserved the shape of a rectangle with rounded edges. Hippodrome gardens had a lawn with flowers, framed by alleys and trimmed shrubs. Shrub and tree compositions, flower gardens, fountains and gazebos were also placed on the edges. The empty space in the center gave an opportunity for observation.

• Xyst gardens - flat garden, took the form of a parterre and it was connected with the portico of the house.

Examples of such gardens are given in the descriptions of the villas of Pliny the Younger. An interesting example is the Tiburtine Villa of emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.), located near Rome and occupied extensive territory. The garden was arranged on the stepped terraces with a height difference of 40m and was a unique museum of different devices and structures. Ponds with the grottos, ponds, hippodrome gardens, garden groves, the Garden of Pericles and Canopy Orchard were located here. Near the hippodrome on the island, surrounded by channel, was an aviary. The emperor's palace was located here as well as numerous other structures (libraries, theatres, colonnades, porticos) that were built with the typical Roman style. The composition connection between these structures is not seen. Out of the Ancient Roman parks Emperor Nero's park is notable. It was created on the spot of a fire and arose in Rome in the I c. A.D. The park was successfully combined with the rural area.

 

In ancient Rome they proclaimed the idea of the contrast of the geometric and rectilinear forms of the artificial landscape of free shape of the surrounding nature. Roman tradition preferred the regular planning not only of streets and areas, but also out-of-town villas, surrounded by extensive gardens. Villas, as a rule, were built in the mountainous country; therefore they had the stepped composition solution. Romans used monumental and immense structures for landscape design in the compositions, i.e., they seemingly tried "to subordinate nature". Specifically, the ideas of the architects of ancient Rome serve as the basis of contemporary gardens in the regular style and are the basis of the creation of artificial medium.

Rome memorized with the luxury of its urban palaces, villas, gardens and parks. Internal courtyards, which were surrounded on all sides with colonnades,  were located in the volume of practically each  villa and palace in ancient Rome. Each colonnade  always had water features and was frequently decorated with flowers, sculptures, different shrubs. Almost in each urban patio it was possible to find a fountain with  shrubs and flowers next to it. The excavations of Pompeii make it possible to imagine what the green internal patios called viridarii were like. They were surrounded by columns and decorated with a fountain or small pond and flower beds. So that it would not be felt that the space of the garden from all sides is small, patio walls were covered with frescoes, which depict the different perspectives of fantastic gardens.

In most of ancient Rome the gardens were treasured and were located both in the city center and in the outskirts. The ponds with fountains and parterres which were bisected by alleys were the key elements of these gardens. Marble statues were located between the trees, and green shrubs were frequently trimmed in the most unique ways. They most likely trimmed verdure so that its lines would be coordinated with the lines of the houses and adjacent colonnades and porticos. Gardens were decorated with an abundance of rare flowers, brought from distant countries like India. The great migration of peoples destroyed these gardens as well as many other structures of ancient Rome. Aqueducts were destroyed and the fountains ran out of water.

As a whole the landscape design of ancient Rome the following features are characteristic:

• the improvement of the methods of ancient Greece and the creation of their own. Specifically, in the landscape design of Ancient Rome appeared arbors, alleys, topiaries - neatly figured trimmed.

• the creation of new types of gardens (public gardens, peristyle gardens, gardens in the villas, hippodrome gardens);

• the absence of composition unity in the gardens.

 

Evidence of the development of landscape design is the fact that at the beginning of our era a relative of Emperor August - Agrippa built large therms (bath complexes) with gardens, he built about 700 ponds, 500 fountains and many aqueducts in Rome. Many methods of the creation of regular gardens, works with the soil and plants, parks and aqueduct construction  rise from the antiquity and they serve as the basis of the creation of modern landscaping artificial medium. Many methods of the creation of regular gardens and parks are encountered for the first time in the history of landscape design of Ancient Rome. For example, the skill of paving garden paths, which is one of the basic elements of landscape design. Even by this time people attempted to change nature and to give splendour and refinement to their gardens.

 

After the fall of the Roman Empire the construction of new villas began, but they no longer transferred that grandeur, for which the Roman villas were famous. New gardens partially resembled the Roman type of before the empire epoch and at the same time they slightly resembled the gardens of the Ancient East. The traditions of Roman landscape design found their further development in the Italian gardens of the epoch of revival, and then in the regular parks of Europe.