What to see at the Borghese Gallery in Rome: timetables, prices and advice

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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The Borghese Gallery is one of the most beautiful and visited museums in Rome and is housed in Villa Borghese, a building dating back to the early th century, a symbol of the rise of the family of the same name in the Roman environment. In turn, the building is located within the famous park in the center of the capital. Visiting the villa and the important works preserved in it is truly essential during a trip to Rome, so here it is What to see at the Borghese Gallery in Rome.


  1. What to see and how to visit the Borghese Gallery
  2. Paolina Borghese Bonaparte in the guise of winning Venus
  3. Apollo and Daphne
  4. Proserpina's rape
  5. Self-portrait as Bacchus (Sick Bacchus)
  6. Lady with unicorn
  7. Portrait of man
  8. Susanna and the Elders
  9. Head of a laughing young man
  10. Sacred love and profane love
  11. Orpheus enchants the animals
  12. Hours and prices
  13. Online tickets and guided tours
  14. User questions and comments

What to see and how to visit the Borghese Gallery

The Villa inside which the Borghese Gallery is housed is composed of a ground floor where, from the entrance hall Mariano Rossi (named after the painter who decorated the splendid vault), you will be led through the other 8 rooms, each with a specific name and theme. Going up on the first floor you will find 12 other rooms and a vestibule, and finally on the top floor there are i Depositi, a real "second art gallery" inside the museum: here are preserved about 260 paintings arranged on two levels, which they retain some large Raphaelesque canvases such as the Madonna with Child by Scipione Pulzone which, have not found the right place within the eighteenth-century restructuring of the architect Antonio Vesprucci. The central hall is dominated by the large painting by Lavinia Fontana depicting Minerva in the act of dressing up. Along the walls there are sixteenth and seventeenth-century paintings, and, on the upper floor, among others, the Christ scourged by Giovanni Baglione, the biographer of Caravaggio. But be careful because the visits to the Deposits follow different shifts than the Gallery's collections.

Naturally one cannot fail to visit the large garden around the Villa which is the most famous park in Rome, and the Birdhouse, an adjacent structure dating back to the first buildings of the complex. The pavilion was built between 1617 and 1619 and completed under the guidance of the architect Giovanni Vasanzio, the Flemish Jan Van Santen. The premises of the Uccelliera, as well as the spaces of the adjacent secret garden of Tramontana, they host, at certain times of the year, exhibitions or temporary installations in the artistic and architectural fields.

Here are the 10 must-see works.

1 - Paolina Borghese Bonaparte in the guise of the victorious Venus

This sculpture, one of the most famous inside the Gallery, is housed in the Sala 1 on the ground floor which takes its name. The work, locked up by Camillo Borghese in a chest for several decades after the collapse of Napoleon's empire, was placed here only in 1889 and finds correspondence in the paintings on the vault, dedicated to the stories of Venus and Aeneas and executed by Domenico de Angelis.

  • creation date: 1808
  • Author: Antonio Canova
  • Dimensions: 160x200 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: neoclassical sculpture in white marble that portrays Paolina Bonaparte as a celebration of the Napoleonic period

2 - Apollo and Daphne

Continuing the visit we arrive at the Hall of Apollo and Daphne where you can admire the statue of the same name that belonged to the cardinal's collection Scipione Borghese, the man to whom we owe the existence of the entire collection. The sculptural group takes up the scene of a fable by Ovid taken from the Metamorphoses.

  • creation date1622-1625
  • Author: Gian Lorenzo Bernini
  • Dimensions: height 243 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: baroque sculpture in Carrara marble, Apollo and Daphne in motion

3 - The rape of Proserpina

Inside the Hall of the Emperors, so called because it preserves the marble busts of the Roman emperors, the splendid statue of Bernini The abduction of Proserpina. According to the myth, the young woman was kidnapped near Enna by Pluto, god of the Underworld. The great Baroque sculptor was able to recreate all the dismay and violence of the act.

  • creation date1621-1622
  • Author: Gian Lorenzo Bernini
  • Dimensions: height 255 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: sculpture made of Carrara marble, Pluto kidnaps Proserpina

4 - Self-portrait as Bacchus (Sick Bacchus)

The last room on the ground floor, the Room of the Silenus, is famous and deserves a few more minutes of attention for the presence of six of the twelve paintings of Caravaggio owned by Cardinal Borghese. The canvas ofSelf-portrait as Bacchus is part of a series of paintings confiscated by the Church in 1607 to the Cavalier d'Arpino, probably planning its removal and entrusting it to the Cardinal. Critics believe that this young Bacchus painted in three quarters may be a self-portrait of Caravaggio who portrayed himself while being admitted to the Consolation Hospital; the complexion in fact appears cerulean and unhealthy.

  • creation date: 1593
  • Author: Caravaggio
  • Dimensions: 67x53 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: Oil on canvas, Bacchus painted in three quarters with a bunch of grapes

5 - Lady with unicorn

Inside the Sala di Didone, on the first floor, contains some paintings by Raphael, including this lady of whom little information has come down to us. It is thought that the painting, which depicts a young Florentine woman, could be a wedding gift, it can be deduced from the decorative details such as, for example, the ruby ​​and sapphire pendants, the scaramazza pearl, symbol of spiritual love and creative femininity. Raphael may have painted it in the Florentine years prior to his transfer to Rome.

  • creation date: 1506
  • Author: Raffaello Sanzio
  • Dimensions: 67x56 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: oil on canvas applied to panel, portrait of a young girl holding a unicorn

6 - Portrait of a man

Inside the Sala di Ercole there is a painting by Parmigianino, a very intense portrait of what appears to be a noble. The painter executed this painting in the months he spent in Rome immediately preceding the dramatic Sack of the Lanzichenecchi.

  • creation date: 1526
  • Author: Francesco Mazzola, the Parmigianino
  • Dimensions: 58x46 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: oil on panel, portrait of a noble

7 - Susanna and the Elders

This painting is kept in the Hall of Jupiter and Antiope, made by Rubens and always coming from the collection of Cardinal Borghese. The theme is biblical, from the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament and depicts the naked body of Susanna, in the center, in all its purity, intent on rejecting the proposals of old people who approach her. His face is truly expressive.

  • creation date1607-1608
  • Author: Pieter Paul Rubens
  • Dimensions: 94x67 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: oil on canvas, Susanna naked rejecting the figures of old men

8 - Head of a laughing young man

Inside the Hall of Helen and Paris this is preserved painting by Annibale Carracci belonging to the Borghese collection from 1693. It is a small oil that represents a young man laughing in the clothes of the traditional Bolognese mask, the "Doctor". In fact, it is thought that the painter painted the portrait precisely in Bologna, within his cycle "i Ritrattini".

  • creation date: 1582
  • Author: Annibale Carracci
  • Dimensions: 44,5x29,5 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: oil on paper applied on canvas, portrait of a laughing young man.

9 - Sacred love and profane love

This huge Titian's canvas is kept in the Psyche Room, and was purchased by Cardinal Borghese in 1608 within a batch of paintings. The painting is linked to the wedding between a Venetian secretary of the Council of Ten and the daughter of a jurist celebrated in 1514. The dressed woman actually has all the ornaments of the wedding dresses of the time and Cupid, between the dressed woman and the woman naked, pours the water as if suggesting a right balance between, in fact, sacred and profane love.

  • creation date: 1515
  • Author: Tiziano Vecellio
  • Dimensions: 118x278 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: oil on canvas, clothed woman and naked woman sitting by a fountain.

10 - Orpheus enchants the animals

The journey ends with the Vestibule, the room inside which, among others, this table by Jan Bruegel the Elder. It is a Bottega replica of a theme very popular among the Flemish painters of the time: Orpheus playing and enchanting the animals of the wood.

  • creation date: About 1600
  • Author: Jan Bruegel the Elder (but also attributed to the Italian Sinibaldo Scorza)
  • Dimensions: 55x69 cm
  • Technique and subject of the work: oil on panel, Orpheus plays for animals

Hours and prices

To better preserve the rooms of the Museum and allow visitors a pleasant visit, inside the Borghese Gallery there are 2-hour tours with no more than 360 people admitted during each shift.

  • from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 19:00, with last turn of entry at 17:00. On Thursdays also from 19pm to 00pm with last entry at 21pm. The visit of the Deposits is carried out by reservation only on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 00:19 pm for groups of 00 people maximum
  • Best time to avoid queues: in the first round, from 9:00
  • € 13,00 + € 2,00 reservations required. For access to the Deposits the only cost is that of the reservation of € 2,00.
  • Reductions: for the disabled, students and journalists € 6,50 + € 2,00 reservations required
  • Free: some Sundays the entrance to the Museum is free, except for the € 2,00 booking fee. To discover the "free Sundays" visit the official website

Online tickets and guided tours

Useful tips for visiting the attraction

  1. Get up early: the ideal would be to reach the entrance by 08:30, especially on holidays or weekends, the Bookshop and the Cafeteria are already open and it will be possible to queue for the 09:00 shift
  2. Buy the city card: if you are interested in visiting other museums or attractions in the city, you can buy the city card and save on admissions, Roma Pass and Roma & Più Pass. In this case it will be necessary to book by phone
  3. Watch out for restrictions: Some attractions and museums are not allowed to bring water or food, make sure you don't have any with you
  4. Minimum time: we advise you to consider a minimum of 2 hours for the visit, which is the maximum time of a shift. Another hour should be considered for a tour of the park and the Birdhouse

Where is it and how to get there

  • On foot: the tunnel is about 2 km from Termini Station, a half hour walk that can become pleasant if you cross piazza della Repubblica and continue on via Veneto to reach Porta Pinciana, one of the entrances to Villa Borghese. Continue inside the park following the signs for the Gallery, or walk along the walls along via Pinciana and arrive at the entrance to the Gallery from the side of via dell'Uccelliera - Get directions
  • By bus: from the station you can take the 910 bus towards Mancini, or the 92 towards Marliana, and get off at the Pinciana / Museo Borghese stop, it takes about fifteen minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the station or in the metro stations with a cost of € 1,50
  • By metro: if you arrive by metro A at the Flaminio stop, which is about 2 km from the Borghese Gallery, you can take buses 490 and 495 towards Tiburtina with San Paolo del Brasile stop, same stop also for buses 89 (towards Sant'Agnese / Bressanone ), 61 (towards Balsamo Crivelli), 160 (towards Montagnola). The ride takes about a quarter of an hour. If you get off at the Barberini A metro stop, which is about 1,5 km from the Borghese Gallery, you can continue on foot or take buses 61 and 160 towards Villa Borghese, San Paolo del Brasile stop; 52 and 53, direction and stop Pinciana / Museo Borghese; 63 (towards Rossellini) and 83 (towards Largo Valsabbia) with the Pinciana / Museo Borghese stop. In this case the ride takes about 10 minutes. You can use the same metro ticket

Historical notes and curiosities: what to know in brief

The Villa Borghese called "Fuori Porta Pinciana" was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century around some possessions of the family that over time expanded more and more to form an immense park. The high point in the history of the Borghese family came with the election as pontiff of Camillo in 1605, whose favorite nephew and Cardinal, Scipione Caffarelli Borghese, he took care of building a first, great art collection. The construction of the Villa, begun in 1607, was later completed by the architect Giovanni Vasanzio. But it was from 1770 that the Villa, subjected to a radical renewal under the guidance of the architect Vesprucci, became a model of stylistic renewal for European Neoclassicism thanks to a host of painters and sculptors who intervened in its decoration.

The collection of Cardinal Borghese included priceless pieces, including paintings by Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini's sculptures. His unscrupulousness in grabbing the works became a reason for legend. At the end of the seventeenth century the Borghese family had a collection that counted more than 800 pieces including paintings and sculptures, but it was the archaeological collection that aroused Napoleon's interest and imposed a forced sale on the Borghese family in 1807. Many sculptures were disassembled and transported to the Louvre Museum where today they constitute one of the fundamental nuclei. In the following years, following excavations and recoveries around the Villa, the complex took on the appearance it has today. We owe to Prince Camillo Borghese the acquisition of two very important pieces: Paolina Bonaparte in the guise of Venus winner of Canova and the Danae of Correggio. In addition, the prince, in 1833, restored the fidecommissary bond interrupted by Napoleon and thus preserved the collection until the final purchase, in 1902, of the Museum and the Gallery by the Italian State.

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