Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese is an art collection of paintings and sculptures that was begun by the Cardinal Scipione Borghese back in the XVI-XVII centuries. The art gallery is housed on the territory of the Villa Borghese designed specifically for placing the art collection. The final appearance of the magnificent three-storey building with two towers was completed at the end of the XVIII century when it was re-designed in the classicism style: the facade was adorned with moulding and ornamental niches. The main entrance is reached by the double stair that imitates Michelangelo’s work on the Capitoline Hill. Interiors of the building astonish with its luxurious decorations: antique mosaic and marble incrustation. The ground floor is devoted to the collection of sculptures where principal role is granted to art objects created by Bernini father and son. Cardinal Scipione Borghese was an early patron and client of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The first floor houses the picture gallery and contains pieces by Holland, Flemish, French, German and Spanish artists: Correggio, Raphael, Botticelli, Tiziano, Reni, Cesare da Sesto, Rubens, Veronese, Vincenzo Camuccini. Cardinal Borghese was the nephew of Pope Paul V and thus had an unrestricted authority to buy the objects of art at a very cheap rate or simply confiscate them.

He was also an avid collector of works by Caravaggio, so Cardinal Scipione purchased some major works of the artist mostly contributing to the fact that Caravaggio is now well represented in the Gallery. It actually holds the most numerous collection of Caravaggio’s works in the world. During the certain period in the history Caravaggio’s works were sold merely for a song: clients who were mostly clergymen found them too outspoken. Madonna, Child and Serpent was originally given from the Basilica of Saint Anna into the private collection but was almost right away bought out by Scipione. Madonna dei Palafrenieri was replaced from St Peter’s Basilica. The Gallery also exposes the following works by Caravaggio: Boy with a Basket of Fruit and David with the Head of Goliath. The Deposition by Raphael was "borrowed" by the Cardinal from the church in Perugia. Abbot of the church and local community tried to appeal against such a decision but it had no result whatsoever. Lady with a Unicorn by Raphael was inherited by the Gallery from the Aldobrandini family. Raphael’s pictures feature unique colour scales: the colours are so bright and fresh that one can hardly believe that the picture was painted in the XV century.

Bernini’s sculptures Appolo and Daphne, the Rape of Proserpina, Amalthea, Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius, Bust of Scipione Borghese were all commissioned by the Cardinal. Bernini’s masterpieces live and breathe, they radiate with passion and lust, they embody the ever disappearing beauty, they are in motion and it seems they are just about to talk. Neptune’s fingers stick into Proserpina’s soft skin, leg muscles look so natural that you can just feel her efforts and moves, and from the eyes of Proserpina the transparent marble tears drop down her cheek. Turning the stone into the flesh was not everything Bernini achieved, it seems he could put the soul into it. This is the true beauty and power of the art. The halls of the Gallery impress as well – marble, gilding and smartly arranged lighting. In the image of David Bernini pictured himself. They say that during the creation of this work the mirror in front the of the master’s face was held by the future Pope Urban VIII. The detailed knowledge of history and perfect artistic taste are not a must, one may simply come to the Gallery, stand several minutes in silence in front the masterpieces, and the rest will be done by magnificent Bernini!

Visitors are allowed to the Gallery in groups every two hours. First enter the people who have booked the tickets over the phone or bought tickets in advance, including via Internet. If there remain vacant places, they are occupied by people from the line. That is why we would recommend to buy tickets for particular time on the website in advance and to arrive at the Gallery 30 minutes before the appointed time. If you plan to use RomaPass (the ticket that gives free access to the first two museums in Rome at your choice), use it for a free visit to the Galleria Borghese because tickets are quite costly. But preliminary booking over the phone is still required (Telephone for booking 0039 06 32810, phrase: "I want to book 2 tickets to Galleria Borghese, date ..., I have RomaPass". You will get the response that your order was accepted and you’ll be given a number). All the belongings must be left in the cloak-room. Photography is prohibited inside the Gallery.

Address: Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 5
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 8.30 am – 7.30 pm, Mon closed; 1 Jan and 25 Dec closed
How to reach: metro Spagna, Flaminio
Coordinates: 41.914214, 12.492141