The Monster Park of Bomarzo is a fascinating park decorated with grotesque statues made in the 16th century by the Manierist artist Pirro Ligorio. The park was commissioned by the prince Vicino Orsini and dedicated to his wife, Giulia “la Bella” Farnese, who was also the mistress of the famous Pope Borgia. The park is also called “bosco sacro” that means holy wood because it is more like a wood rather than a renaissance garden. In fact the park was created at the end of the Renaissance time and is in a certain way anticipating the Baroque period. While visiting the wood, mysterious animals, monsters and decorations will appear to you like a labyrinth of symbols. After the death of the prince Orsini the park was abandoned. Only in the 18th century important artists such as Goethe and Dali, began to interpret the symbols and decorations. Here is a list of our favourite compositions:
Hercules and Caco
Hercules is defeating the giant Caco after he stole Hercules cows. On the inscription is written a reference to the Colossus of Rodus.
The big turtle is surmounted by a woman. Originally she had 2 wings and was blowing two trumpets. The woman is representing the fame. She is holding one foot on a globe and the other is suspended on air, which simbolizes the instability of the fame. The fame is represented with two trumpets, the good and the bad one as the two aspects of fame.
The winged horse Pegasus is flying away to announce the victory to the Gods. Probably it is a homage Vicino Orsini made to his brother in love Alessandro Farnese who became the Pope Paul III. Originally the statue was surrounded by the statues of musas and 4 Gods such as Juppiter, Apollo, Baccus, Mercurius but unfortunately they are not visible anymore.
The leaning house
The house is leaning as the bad leaning of life when the faith is not followed. In fact every person is leaning towards vices after the original sin.
The lying monumental statue probably is Neptune, the God of Sea and he is holding a dolphin in his hand. Another theory is saying that the laying statue represents the river Tiber.
The elephant is holding a tower and eating a soldier. The big mammal is representing the victories and the defeats of the Roman Empire and at the same time the victories and defeats of the prince Vicino Orsini. The soldier eaten by the elephant might represent Hannibal, the greatest enemy of the Roman army.
The dragon here is simply an allegory of time. In fact he is attacked by a dog, a lion and a wolf, symbols of spring, summer and winter. He is wearing butterfly wings to give a positive meaning to an animal usually connected with the evil.
The ogre is representing Ade, the God of Afterlife. In fact in latin orcus (ogre in Italian) was a also a name referred to Ade. Originally the inscription at the entrance said: "leave all hope you who enter", a clear reference to the Dantes inferno. Probably a symbol of impotence in front of the faith and destiny. Inside there are some curious chairs and a table made of stone.
The building was dedicated to Orsinis wife Giulia Farnese after her death. It has a classical style in contrast with the different style of the park. The dome reminds the famous dome of Florence by Brunelleschi. The temple is decorated with roses, symbol of Orsini and lilies, symbol of the Farnese family.
Proteus was a mithological Sea monster who could transform himself into various shapes. He had the power of an oracle and could see the faith and the future of the people. He is holding a globe on his head.