The Monster Park, also known as The Gardens of Bomarzo, The Sacred Forest or The Villa of Wonders can be found in the village of Bomarzo in the province of Viterbo, Lazio.
It was created in 1552 in a natural wooded park located in the valley below the Castle of Orsini. The idea and design was created by Prince Pier Francesco Orsini (generally known as Vicino Orsini) and he commissioned the architect Pirro Ligorio to construct it.
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The park is totally unique, if a little eccentric, and provides a fascinating day out, particularly for families with young children.
Throughout the wooded parkland there are small buildings and larger than life statues which have been sculpted from the basalt rock which dominates the natural landscape here. There seems to be little connection between thedifferent buildings and sculptures which include, among other things, a crooked house, fountains, seats, mythological creatures, gods and monsters and dragons. Many of the sculptures have strange and confusing inscriptions referring to animals, horrendous faces and ogres or random, simple sentences like 'just to set the heart free'. The reason behind the park is unknown but it was certainly built to create wonder and astonishment.
During the latter half of the 19th century the gardens became neglected and overgrown but a restoration programme was put in place during the 1970's by the current owners, the Bettini family. The gardens are still private property but are open to the public and have become a major tourist attraction for the province of Viterbo.
Here is a small selection and brief description of the some of the main buildings and statues.
Il Tempio (The Temple)
Il Tempio - Photo: Etienne
Built as a monument to memorial to Giulia Farnese, the second wife of Prince Pier Francesco Orsini.
La Casa Pendente (The Leaning House)
La Casa Pendente - Photo: Alessio Damato
This alarmingly leaning house is built on a sloping boulder and is one of the biggest attractions in the park. Oddly, it also slopes inside but in the opposite direction to the outside.
L'Orco (The Orc)
L'Orco - Photo: Alessio Damato
This statue is the symbol of the Park and is actually a room carved into the natural rock. It is possible to enter via some steps where there is a cavernous room with benches and a table. Once inside any noise, particularly that of human voices, is amplified and distorted which creates a frightening effect.
L'Elefante (The Elephant)
L'Elefante - Photo: Alessio Damato
An elephant with a large tower on its back and a Roman Legionnaire wrapped in its trunk. The statue is believed to be a reference to Hannibal.
Il Drago (The Dragon)
Il Drago - Photo: Alessio Damato
This is a winged dragon fighting three animals, a dog, a lion and a wolf.
Echidna e Furia (Echidna and the Fury)
Echidna - Photo: Gabriele Delhey
Echidna is a woman with huge snake tails in place of her legs and Fury is a woman with a tail and the wings of a dragon. There are two lions sitting between them.
Nettuno - Photo: Gabriele Delhey
A huge statue of Neptune
Proteau - Photo: Alessio Damato
A large head representing Proteus which seems to be growing up from the ground. On his head there is a large stone globe.
Ercole e Caco (Hercules and Caco)
Ercole e Caco - Photo: Alessio Damato
This is the largest statue in the park and is called Colossus. It represents the struggle between the two giants, Hercules and Caco.
The Monster Park is open every day of the year at the following times:
08.30 a.m.- 19.00 p.m. (from April to August)
08.30 a.m. - to sunset (from September to March)
Admission prices are as follows:
Per Person: €10.00
Children (4 to 13 years): €8.00
There is a discount for large groups and schools but it is necessary to book at least two days in advance.
Entrance is free to disabled people
Facilities at the park include:
- Snack Bar
- Book Shop
- Childrens Area
: 0039 0761 924029