History of the Borghese Gallery

History of the Borghese Gallery


The Galleria Borghese is an art gallery located in Villa Borghese. Upon establishment, the Borghese Gallery was part of the private art collection of a wealthy cardinal but now is open to the public, becoming one of the most visited attractions in Rome. 

The Borghese Gallery is home to a stunning collection of sculptures, antiques, and paintings from renowned artists including Bernini, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titan and more! While smaller in scale than the Vatican Museums, the Borghese Gallery still has plenty of masterpieces you can admire - from Baroque paintings to Roman statues. 

The Villa was the brainchild of architect Flaminio Ponzio and was meant to function as a country villa at the edge of Rome. Rated one of the top attractions in Rome on TripAdvisor, the Borghese Gallery is the only art gallery you need to visit when in Rome. The abundance of lush greenery contributed by the Villa Borghese gardens only elevates the experience and makes it memorable.


The Borghese family, with ties to the Roman Catholic Church, moved to Rome in the 16th century and rapidly amassed a lot of wealth and prominence. In 1605, Camillo Borghese was elected as Pope (Pope Paul V) and soon after he named his nephew, Scipione Borghese, a Cardinal. Scipione was an avid collector of art and invested a major part of the wealth he had acquired through papal fees and taxes into expanding the family's art collection. 

Essentially, this art collection is what is now on display at the Borghese Gallery. During his time, Scipione Borghese purchased and commissioned art by many famous Italian artists, such as Titan, Caravaggio, and Raphael. One young sculptor in particular caught the Cardinal's attention; Gianlorenzo Bernini and the gifted artists rise to fame was partly Scipione Borghese's doing. 

The structure of the gallery itself was commissioned by the Cardinal in 1613 as a means to showcase his massive art collection at one place. The gallery was developed as a suburban holiday villa with vast gardens, which are now known as Villa Borghese. In the 19th century, the Borghese family underwent financial troubles and Prince Camillo Borghese sold many pieces from the gallery to the French state. In 1902, the entire Borghese state was acquired by the Roman government and turned into a public art gallery.

Select Your Tickets

Skip-the-Line Tickets: Borghese Gallery

Villa Borghese Gallery and Gardens Skip The Line Guided Tour

Borghese Gallery and Gardens Half Day Tour with Hotel Pickup

Borghese Gallery & Colosseum Half Day Guided Tour with Roman Forum