Nestled in a sumptuous 17th century palace, in the middle of vast gardens, the Borghese Gallery is quite simply one of the most prestigious museums in the world! Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of Captain Ulysses’ favourite tourist attractions in Rome! Follow the guide!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of Rome? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the city (in English). It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
Are you looking for a hotel in Rome? Be sure to check out the Captain’s article: Where to stay in Rome? Advice & recommendations
Are you planning your stay in Rome? Check out Captain Ulysses’ detailed article on the best things to do in the city: A Guide to Rome
Brief history of the Galleria Borghese
The origins of the Villa Borghese
At the end of the 16th century, the Borgheses were one of the richest and most powerful families in Italy. Originally from Siena, they acquired huge plots of land north of Rome which they gradually transformed into vast gardens.
At the beginning of the 17th century, Cardinal Camillo Borghese was elected Pope: he reigned until 1621 under the name of Paul V.
The Borghese family then undertook major development work on the land they had acquired at the end of the previous century. They built a luxurious villa inspired by the Villa Medici and the Villa Farnesina. Construction work was entrusted to the architect Flaminio Ponzio before Giovanni Vasanzio took over on his death.
Renovations & restorations
At the end of the 18th century, the Villa Borghese was completely renovated and decorated with frescoes, stucco and opulent marble ornaments.
In 1902, the Borghese family’s finances were at an historic low. The Italian state bought the villa and its collections and turned it into a museum: the Borghese Gallery was born.
In 1983, the museum closed its doors to be entirely renovated. n 1997, after 14 long years of restoration, the Borghese Gallery reopened. It is now considered one of the most prestigious museums in the world.
The collections of the Galleria Borghese
The origins of the collections of the Galleria Borghese
The Borgheses were a family of art lovers and collectors.
Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Camillo Borghese – Pope Paul V – assembled one of the world’s largest collections of Italian art in the 17th century. A passionate admirer of Bernini and Caravaggio, Scipione Borghese acquired many works of art by the great Italian masters.
At the end of the century, Gianbattista Borghese, his descendant, received half of the Aldobrandini family’s collection from his mother, Olimpia Aldobrandini. These works of art added to the already overflowing collections of the Borghese family.
Gianbattista Borghese’s half-brother, Giabattista Pamphilj, received the other half of the Aldobrandini collection, which can be admired in the beautiful Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.
The collections since the 19th century
But in the 19th century, the Borghese family’s prosperity declined. Under pressure from Napoleon I, Camillo Borghese, husband of Pauline Bonaparte – Napoleon’s sister, whose famous statue by Antonio Canova is one of the highlights of the Galleria Borghese – sold part of the collections to France.. When Napoleon fell, some of the collections was returned to the Borghese family.
In 1833, in order to protect the collections, Francis Borghese signed a trust making it impossible to disperse the artwork.
In 1902, the Italian State acquired the collections amassed over the centuries by the Borghese family along with the villa.
Visiting the Galleria Borghese
Even if you are not a great art lover, the palace alone is worth a visit! The Villa Borghese comprises some twenty rooms open to the public, each more richly decorated than the last. The entrance staircase with two ramps is absolutely stunning!
The collections of the Galleria Borghese
Listing all the sculptures on display in the Galleria Borghese is quite simply impossible. The collections cover dozens of centuries, from Antiquity to the 19th century.
Don’t miss the sculpture of Pauline Borghese (Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister) represented as Venus Victrix, nor the numerous sculptures by Bernini: David, the Abduction of Persephone, Apollo and Daphne… Masterpieces!
Among the most emblematic artists exhibited in the Borghese Gallery, don’t miss:
- Jan Bruegel
- Paul Rubens
La crème de la crème!
The Galleria Borghese, on of Rome’s top tourist attractions?
There is only one answer to this question: YES in capital letters! The Galleria Borghese is not only one of the most beautiful museums in Rome, it also ranks very high on the list of the most beautiful museums in the world.
It is an indispensable stop for any visitor to exploring the Italian capital (and is, incidentally, one of Captain Ulysses’ biggest favourites in Rome)!
⚠️ Be warned! The Galleria Borghese Gallery is one of Rome’s most visited monuments is only accessible by reservation. You can book your tickets by phone or online.
👉 Find out more here.
The gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8.30am to 7.30pm.
Tickets are €27 full price, €9 reduced price (free for visitors under 18).
The nearest metro station is Piazza di Spagna (line A). Many public buses also stop near the gallery, as well as hop-on hop-off tourist buses.
Unlimited access to public transport is included in the Omnia Card. Find out more here.
👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in advance!
Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all the Captain’s suggestions!
🎟️ Activities: as for booking visits and tourist activities, Captain Ulysses recommends three websites: GetYourGuide, Tiqets and Civitatis. Guided tours, cruises, skip-the-line tickets, tourist activities… there’s plenty to choose from!
🎫 Citypass: if you are staying in Rome for several days, it may be worth investing in the Roma Pass or the Omnia Card . As well as entry to some of the capital’s most iconic sites, these passes include access to public transport.
🚐 Transfers: if you want to arrive in Rome serenely, you can book your transfer from the airport to the city centre in advance. A car will be waiting to take you to your accommodation in the city. Find out more: transfers in Rome.
🚌 Local transport: Rome has a comprehensive public transport system: metro, bus and tram. Access to public transport is included in the Roma Pass and the Omnia Card. If you wish, you can also opt for a hop-on hop-off bus tour which stops at all the top tourist attractions in Rome (audio guide included).
✈️ Flights and trains: to book your flights to Rome, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends Skyscanner. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.
As for trains, the Captain recommends Trainline to book your tickets.