Spectacularly overlooking the Campagna Romana and Rome, the Barco Borghese is a vast quadrangular platform on which a group of country houses from the Renaissance period stand. They were first built by the Altemps family and then by the Borghese family, who succeeded them, thereby becoming owners of the nearby villa Mondragone. The westernmost part of the clearing is set on an articulate and spectacular sequence of 190 vaulted hypogea spaces dating back to the Roman era (1st century B.C.), extending over a surface area of approximately 16,000 sqm.
The evocative underground itinerary combines history, legends and ancient technology, and culminates in the viewing of a rare epigraphic collection from the Roman era, marked out by paintbrush, charcoal and scratchings on the plaster of the innermost rooms. The archaeological investigations along the outer north-west side of the complex also unearthed a monumental façade divided into halls adorned with Doric semi-columns. This is now used as a setting for musical performances.
Although the Barco Borghese was traditionally believed to have been the enormous base of a Roman villa, a more recent hypothesis suggests that it was a sanctuary. More extensive and in-depth archaeological investigation will be needed in order to determine its actual origins.