Palazzetto del Belvedere (The Palace of Belvedere), Vatican Gardens, Vatican City, Rome

"Palazzetto del Belvedere (The Palace of Belvedere), Vatican Gardens, Vatican City, Rome" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Tuesday 10th January 2012

Palazzetto del Belvedere, Vatican Gardens, Vatican City, Rome

The Palace of Belvedere was built for Innocent VII by Pollaiolo on the hill called collina of S.Egidio or of Belvedere. In 18th century it was modified for the Museo Pio- Clementino by M.Simonetti and G.Camporese.

schema p-zetto belvedere
Fig: schema p-zetto belvedere

The Pio-Clementino Museum (Museo Pio-Clementino)

Takes its name from the pope Clement XIV, who exposed here the first collections, and from his successor Pius VI, who enriched already existing sculpture museum.

The Pio-Clementino Museum (Museo Pio-Clementino) was conceived by Clement XIV, who, in the years 1770 - 73, transformed the interior of a 15th-century loggia (the Palazzetto del Belvedere) extended the area of the Vatican to its natural boundaries on the north and north-west and the charming little garden next to it in which Julius II and his immediate successor had assembled their personal collections of classical marbles, the early nucleus of the Vatican collections. The Museum was later enlarged (1776 - 86) by Pius VI with the construction of new buildings inspired by the architecture of imperial Rome.

Passing through a Round Vestibule and Gabinetto dell'Apoxyomenos, visitors find themselves in the

Octagonal Courtyard

of the Belvedere, where Julius II placed the first classical sculptures which formed the nucleus of a great Vatican collection. When Pius VI had the museum enlarged in 1775, M.Simonetti made the courtyard into an octagon by forming the recesses (gabinetti) in the 4 corners.

Gabinetto dell'Apollo
Fig: Gabinetto dell'Apollo

Gabinetto dell'Apollo. Here is the famous Apollo Belvedere (2nd century), a Roman copy of a bronze original probably by Leochares (320 b.C.). The slender elegant figure of the young god is stepping forward to see the effect of the arrow that he has just shot. The statue has been greatly admired as one of the masterpieces of classical sculpture since it was brought to the Vatican in 1503. It was restored in 1982.

laocoonte pioclementino
Fig: laocoonte pioclementino

The Gabinetto del Laocoonte. It contains the famous group of Laocoon and his two sons in the coils of the serpents, a vivid and striking illustration of the story related by Virgil in the Aeneid. Laocoon, priest of Apollo, warned his fellow Trojans against the trickery of the Greeks and entreated them not to admit the wooden horse into the city. In punishment Apollo or Athene sent serpents to crush him and his sons to death in their coils. This group, of Greek marble, was found on the Esquiline Hill, in 1506, and was at once recognized as that described by Pliny, though it is not carved from a single block, as he states, but from at least three pieces. It was purchased by Julius II after its discovery and brought to the Vatican. It is ascribed to the Rhodian sculptors Agesander, Polydoros and Athenodoros (1st century b.C.- 1st century a.C.). The group was restored in 1957.

Gabinetto dell'Hermes. Hermes, the conductor of souls to the underworld, copy of an original by Praxiteles at Olympia.

Neo-classical statues of Perseus
Fig: Neo-classical statues of Perseus

The Gabinetto del Canova. Contains three Neo-classical statues of Perseus (pictured above), the boxers Creugas, and Damoxenes, by A.Canova, placed here when most of the classical masterpieces were taken to Paris by Napoleon in 1800.

(Pictured below: a sculpture decorating one of the six granite basins in Octagonal Courtyard)

cortile ottagonale
Fig: cortile ottagonale

Before the door leading from the Octagonal Courtyard to the Animal Room there are 2 Molossian dogs of the school of Pergamon (pictured below).

Fig: Dog

Animal Room

Most of the animal statues are by Francesco Antonio Franzoni (1734-1818), who made them for this room for Pius VI. Some are entirely Franzoni's work; others were made up by him from ancient fragments (pictured below).

animal room lion
Fig: animal room lion

Room of the Muses.

Fig: musa

The entrance to it is from the Animal Room. It is an octagon with a vestibule at either end, built in 1782 by M.Simonetti i. Octagon, a magnificent hall with 16 columns of Carrara marble: seven statues of the nine Muses in this room were found in a villa near Tivoli, and are thought to be copies of bronze originals. (below image: Muse Thalia)

musa thalia
Fig: musa thalia

The next is Circular Hall.

circular hall
Fig: circular hall

It was also designed by Simonetti (1782), modeled on the Pantheon. In the pavement is a mosaic from Otricoli, representing a battle between the Greeks and centaurs, tritons, and nereids; in the center of the room, a huge monolithic porphyry vase found in the Domus Aurea; 18 sculptures and busts of mythological heroes and real historical figures.

From Circular Hall the visitor gets to the Hall of the Greek Cross, so called because of its form, executed on a Greek cross plan by M.Simonetti. It contains Sarcophagus in porphyry of St Helena (mother of Constantine); Sarcophagus of Constantina (daughter of Constantine); two granite sphinxes, mosaic pavement; sculpture of Caesar (nephew of Augustus).

The staircase from Hall of the Greek cross leads up to the Etruscan Museum (Museo Gregoriano Etrusco). It was founded by Gregory XVI in 1837. Apart from examples of Etruscan culture it contains pieces of Greek and Roman art, and a notable collection of Greek vases. The exhibits are subdivided according to material (i.e. bronze, stone, terracotta, precious objects, and ceramics).

marte di todi
Fig: marte di todi

See on the above image: Mars of Todi, a bronze statue dating from the beginning of the 4C b.C.

See on the below image - an example from Collection of Greek, Italic and Etruscan vases. Most of them come from the Etruscan tombs of Southern Etruria, discovered during excavations in 19th century. At the time of their discovery the vases were all called Etruscan.

Collection of Greek, Italic and Etruscan vases
Fig: Collection of Greek,
Italic and Etruscan vases

Palazzetto del Belvedere (The Palace of Belvedere)
Vatican Gardens, Viale Vaticano, 97
00120, Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
00165 Rome, Italy
Palazzetto del Belvedere (The Palace of Belvedere) is Shown By "Map D Zone" As "10"
Subway: Ottaviano (488 m NE), Metro A
Tel: +39 06 3973 0143

More Info:
Always in the circuit of the Vatican Museums are also open to the public the following museums: the Palazzetto del Belvedere, the Ladies’ Room, the Room of the Immaculate Conception, Raphael’s rooms, la Chiaroscuri room the Niccolina Chapel, Borgia’s Apartment, the Sistine Hall, the Room of the Aldobrandine’s Wedding, and, above all, the real masterpiece of the Museums: the Sistine Chapel.

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