A 16th Century Theme Park

In 1552, Prince Pier Francesco Orsini, a scion of one of Rome's four great medieval families, commissioned the architect Pirro Ligorio to build a garden in the valley of family lands near Viterbo, north of Rome. It was intended as a source of comfort in a moment of great personal difficulty, and the words in this kiosk - which I have translated below - convey the idea that he had of creating a magical private world.

We can imagine the same words being used at the entrance of a 19th century freak show.


                                                                       ©Edward Burman

Those of you who travel the world to see its wonders and splendours, come here where you will find horrible faces, elephants, lions, bears, ogres and dragons