The Peristyle Garden at the Getty Museum is based on an Italian villa garden buried by the erruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. The garden, which is enclosed by a peristyle with a red tiled roof and frescoed walls, has a central pool and is planted with oleander, myrtle, roses, violets and other Mediterranean plants. It is based on the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum. Paul Getty commissioned the design, in 1974, and the architect Norman Neuerburg based on a plan on the best archaeological information available: a plan by Karl Weber. The planting design, unfortunately, was not based on archaeological or even historical information. It was based on the theory that because Re-naissance translates as 're-birth', one can discover the character of Roman gardens by working backwards from Renaissance gardens.
Splendid site and expansive budget come together in this re-creation of a Roman villa and its gardens. Of course it's beautiful, you could even say stunning. I've always found it ever so slightly silly--it's all based on a villa in Herculaneum, most of which has never been excavated--and in the beginning visitors parked underneath the villa. (Not that the ancient Romans would have had any problem with locating parking under their houses, if needed, but still...) Now there is a parking structure adjacent to the villa. I've always found the food in the cafe tasty.
Note: Admission is free but timed reservations are required. Parking is $15 and street parking is prohibited.
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