This article highlights the wonderful Getty Villa located in Pacific Palisades (Los Angeles).
Sometimes, I just have luck. One day, a hiking trip to Malibu ended up as a cultural feast in a first-century villa. Sounds insane. I know. Let me proceed.
We wanted to hike to Escondido Falls. However, it took us about 45 minutes to get to Santa Monica from our house. We are talking about 12 short, short miles
Because of that, after merging into Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1), I said to my husband: “Why we don’t stop at the Getty Villa?” I wasn’t in the mood for another hour in the vehicle.
Ohh, I felt so relieved when we turned right into the road leading to the Villa. But, we encountered a minor obstacle. The guard asked to see our reservations. I was like whhhaaatttttt? I thought the dynamic was similar to the Getty Center where you show up, pay to park and enter the place. I told the guy I didn’t have reservations. He said: “Let me get somebody who can help you out.”
A lady appeared in the car window after a few seconds.
“You need reservations, folks,” she said.
I replied, “No problem, we will return another day.”
“Today is your lucky day. Due to low flow, just show this before paying for parking,” and she gave us two entrance tickets. Don’t you love when people want to make you beg before giving you something (I am being positive in here, ok)?
So, that is the story of how we got into the Villa. And, I know I have been mentioning the Villa like crazy without explaining what it is.
Paul Getty, an oil tycoon an uber millionaire, opened a gallery next to his opulent house in Pacific Palisades. However, due to his buying impulses, he ran out of room to exhibit his treasures. He built a museum modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman country house in Herculaneum buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 (the same explosion that buried Pompeii), in his property. Since the Villa dei Papiri is not completely excavated, the Getty Villa takes architectural details from other ancient sites too.
The Villa was finished in 1974 but Getty himself was never able to visit. After his death, the museum inherited $661 million and estate managers started to plan a much larger campus (what it is known today as the Getty Center). The collection has 44,000 pieces. No wonder why Getty left so much money to protect it.
Today, the Getty Villa houses Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities. It has also become a study center.
The place is opened to the public. There is no charge to enter but parking costs $15 per vehicle. Make sure to secure reservations if you want to visit (don’t be like me).
Reasons to visit? Many.
Just take a look at what you can find.
The atrium was the main public room in a Roman house. When we visited, a piece called “Lion Attacking a Horse” was on loan from the Capitoline Museums in Rome.
From the atrium, you can move to admire the pieces on display. Floor 1 showcases the Greek, Etruscan, and Persian collections. In addition, there is an area explaining Getty’s love for collecting artifacts from antiquity as well as his life and legacy.
Floor 2 is mainly dedicated to Roman art. There is a section reserved for special exhibitions.
The Marble Room
The Temple of Heracles
This space holds one of the most priced pieces in the entire collection, The Lansdowne Herakles. The floor here is a replica of the Villa dei Papiri.
The Inner Courtyard or Peristyle
A peristyle is a continuous porch formed by a row of columns surrounding the perimeter of a building or a courtyard. This architectural style is related to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The Getty Villa’s inner peristyle features a long fountain, sculptures, and manicured bushes.
The East Garden
The colorful fountain here is a replica of an ancient fountain in the House of the Large Fountain at Pompeii. This is one of my favorite parts of the VIlla.
Part of the charm of the Villa can be attributed to the details. Try to pay attention to all the little, wonderful things that are around you.
The Outer Courtyard or Peristyle
To me, this is the jewel of the place. This is what I wanted to see went I entered the villa. The pool, the bronze statues, and the trees provide a peaceful space where you can let your imagination wander.
Tips for Visiting
As mentioned, you need to reserve tickets before your visit. Tickets are free but timed. You need to be on-site at the time your ticket states. The catch is that a parking fee of $20 ($15 after 3:00 p.m.) is charged. Nevertheless, this is a bargain when you consider the quality of the institution and the number of people you can fit in a car.
Keep in mind that if you pay the parking fee at the Getty Villa, you can visit the Getty Center that same day and not pay a second parking fee. Make sure you stop by the visitor center to get a parking pass for the Center before leaving the Villa. This also works if you visit the Center first.
There is a restaurant/cafe located on-site.
Free Wi-Fi is available at the VIlla.
Large personal items (backpacks, purses) may need to be stored in a locker.
A lot of people related the Villa with Malibu but it is located in Pacific Palisades, a neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles.
You can combine a visit to the Getty Villa with Santa Monica, Venice Beach, or the Malibu Pier. Another good idea is to combine a visit with one of Malibu’s hikes. I recommend Corral Canyon, Point Dume Reserve, or Los Liones Trail (in Topanga State Park).
More of Los Angeles
One Day in Los Angeles: Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
Two Days in Los Angeles: Downtown-Based Itinerary
Los Angeles Itinerary: 2, 3 or 4 Days in Los Angeles
More of Southern California
What do you think? Would you like to visit this place? Let me know in the comments section below.
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