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Villa imperiale del Casale – Ancient Palace in Italy in Sicily (Sicilia)

The visible remains of the villa were constructed in the first quarter of the 4th century AD on the remains of an older villa rustica, which are the pars dominica, or master’s residence, of a large latifundium or agricultural estate.

Three successive construction phases have been identified; the first phase involved the quadrangular peristyle and the facing rooms. The private bath complex was then added on a north-west axis. In a third phase the villa took on a public character: the baths were given a new entrance and a large latrine. A grand monumental entrance was built, off-axis to the peristyle but aligned with the new baths’ entrance in a formal arrangement with the elliptical (or ovoid) arcade and the grand tri-apsidal hall. This hall was used for entertainment and relaxation for special guests and replaced the two state halls of the peristyle (the “hall of the small hunt” and the “diaeta of Orpheus”). The basilica was expanded and decorated with beautiful and exotic marbles.

The complex remained inhabited for at least 150 years. A village grew around it, named Platia (derived from the word palatium (palace).

In the 5th and 6th centuries, the villa was fortified for defensive purposes by thickening the perimeter walls and closing of the arcades of the aqueduct to the baths. The villa was damaged and perhaps destroyed during the short domination of the Vandals between 469-478. The outbuildings remained in use, at least in part, during the Byzantine and Arab periods. The settlement was destroyed in 1160-1 during the reign of William I. The site was abandoned in the 12th century AD after a landslide covered the villa. Survivors moved to the current location of Piazza Armerina.
The villa was almost entirely forgotten, although some of the tallest parts of the remains were always visible above ground. The area was cultivated for crops. Early in the 19th century, pieces of mosaics and some columns were found. The first official archaeological excavations were carried out later in that century.

Villa imperiale del Casale
Villa imperiale del Casale submitted by Armand : Mosaic (Vote or comment on this photo)
Villa imperiale del Casale
Villa imperiale del Casale submitted by Armand (Vote or comment on this photo)
Villa imperiale del Casale
Villa imperiale del Casale submitted by Armand : Villa (Vote or comment on this photo)
Villa imperiale del Casale
Villa imperiale del Casale submitted by Armand : Mosaic (Vote or comment on this photo)
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