Castel Gandolfo Lazio Italy

Castel Gandolfo is a small Italian town in Lazio that overlooks Lake Albano about 15 miles south-east of Rome, on the Alban Hills. It is best known as the summer residence of the Pope. It is an Italian town with the population of 8834. The town was voted one of the most beautiful towns in Italy.

The resort community includes almost the whole coastline of Lake Albano that is surrounded by many summer residences, villas and cottages built during the seventeenth century. It houses the Stadio Olimpico that staged the rowing events during the Rome Olympics.

There are also several places of archaeological interest, including the Emissario del Lago Albano and the remains of the Villa of Domitian. The area is included in the boundaries of the Parco Regionale dei Castelli Romani (Regional Park of Castelli Romani). There are also many points of artistic interest, such as the Collegiate Church of St. Thomas of Villanova, built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Religious Architecture

  • The parish church, dedicated to St. Thomas of Villanova was designed by Bernini (1658–1661) on the order of the Chigi Pope Alexander VII. It has a square plant, and houses a notable pale by Pietro da Cortona portraying the Crucifixion of Christ.
  • Church of Our Lady of the Lake; wanted personally by Pope Paul VI, was consecrated by the same Pope in 1977 on the shores of Lake Albano.
  • Church of Santa Maria Assunta, and its construction was begun in 1619 with the consecration of the first stone by Pope Paul V. Originally there were installed Reformed Franciscans, but later there was the seat of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide,
  • Church of Santa Maria, of modern construction, situated in the populous district of Borgo San Paolo, near the State Road 7 Via Appia. Adjoining the church there is the theatre “Ugo Bazzi.”
  • Church of San Sebastiano, dedicated to the patron saint of the city and located on State Road 7 Via Appia, at kilometer 23, adjacent to the church cemetery.
  • Church of Santa Maria della Cona.

Civil Architecture

  • The Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo the Pope’s summer residence, is a 17th century building designed by Carlo Maderno for Pope Urban VIII. The papal palace, and the adjoining Villa Barberini that was added to the complex by Pius XI have enjoyed extraterritorial rights since the signature of the 1929 treaty with Italy; the little piazza directly in front was renamed Piazza della Libertà in the first flush of Italian unity after 1870. The Papal Palace remained unused from 1870 until 1929. Popes Pius XII (1958) and Paul VI (1978) died at Castel Gandolfo.
  • Cybo Villa built by Cardinal Camillo Cibo, was annexed to the whole of the Pontifical Villas at the time of Pope Clement XIV who purchased it in 1774 from the owner at the time, Francesco III d’Este, Duke of Modena, for the sum of 80,000 crowns.
  • Villa Barberini built by the nephew of Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini), was incorporated in the extraterritorial complex of the Pontifical Villas only in 1929: manor houses the headquarters of the College of Propaganda Fide. As part of its extensive formal gardens is located, on the existing remains of the complex built by the Roman Emperor Domitian
  • Villa Santa Caterina currently owned by the Pontifical North American College. During, in the construction of this villa, situated in the Herculaneum area, were discovered the Roman ruins of the villa attributed to Publius Clodius Pulcher.
  • Villa Torlonia built in the 16th century by the Roman family of the Giustiniani, then passed into ownership of the Duke of Bracciano Giuseppe Torlonia. The current appearance is due to the restoration of 1829, funded by Duke Carlo Torlonia. The villa has a beautiful landscape on the Agro Romano.
  • Villa Chigi built by Cardinal Flavio Chigi, nephew of Pope Alexander VII, today is home to a golf course.
  • The two telescopes of the Vatican Observatory, which were moved from Rome to Castel Gandolfo in the 1930s, were still used until the 1980s. The headquarters of the Vatican Observatory is still located in Castel Gandolfo. However, its dependent research center, the Vatican Observatory Research Group (VORG), is hosted by Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. The telescopes are located in Mt. Graham, Arizona.

Archaeological sites

  • The site of the papal palace, rebuilt on the ruins of the former castle, partly occupies the foundations of a summer residence of the Emperor Domitian that occupied 14 km² (5.4 square miles). The residence was designed by the famous architect Rabirius. In the palace’s inner courtyard is a Roman bust depicting Polyphemus, the Cyclops from whose cave Ulysses escaped; it was found in the nymphaeum of the Imperial villa’s gardens, an artificially constructed grotto of the crater lake’s outlet.
  • Villa of Publius Clodius Pulcher these are the remains of a Roman villa located on the Appian Way, 23 km of National Road 7 Via Appia, inside the Villa Santa Caterina, owned by the Pontifical North American College .
  • The Bergantino or bath of Diana nymphaeum; on the western shores of the Lake Albano, two kilometers after the Doric nymphaeum, this structure, originally annexed to the Domitian Villa at Castel Gandolfo, opens in a circular Cave of 17 meters in diameter. There is a bath in the middle of the cave, and the floor was completely covered with mosaics, of which a few fragments remain. Various parts of sculptural groups now kept at the Pontifical Palace in Castel Gandolfo have been found in the nymphaeum.
  • Emissario Lake Albano; artificial conduit of run off water along 1800 meters that arises from the West coast of the Lake Albano and leads into Castel Gandolfo locations. It was built, according to the tradition in 396 BC to dissolve a prophecy during the conquest of Veii.

Interested in finding out more about this beautiful region of Italy? then why not check out the Attractions in Lazio and for a flavour of this region take a look at Cuisine and Wines of Lazio

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