Sometimes, I just have luck. One day, a hiking trip to Malibu ended up as cultural feast in a first century villa.
We were decided to hike to Escondido Falls. However, after merging into the CA-1 around Santa Monica, I said: “Why we don’t stop in the Getty Villa?” It took us about 45 minutes to get to Santa Monica from our house. We are talking about 12 short, short miles. 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, you know, we encountered some minor obstacles. 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 parking and enter the place for free. I told the guy I didn’t have reservations and got ready to leave. He said: “Let me get somebody who can help you out.”
This mean faced lady appeared in my 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 how we got into the villa. And I know I have been mentioning the villa like crazy without explaining what it is.
J. Paul Getty, an oil tycoon an uber millionaire, opened a gallery next to his opulent house in Malibu. 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 today 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. As I previously mentioned, there is no charge to enter but parking costs $15 per vehicle. Make sure to make reservations if you want to visit (don’t be like me).
Reasons to visit? Many.
Just take a look at what you can find.
This 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.
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 in here is a replica from the Villa dei Papiri.
The Inner Courtyard or Peristyle
The East Garden
The colorful fountain in here is a replica of an ancient fountain in the House of the Large Fountain at Pompeii.
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.
What do you think? Would you like to visit this place? Let me know in the comments section below.