I recently came across a reference to this place and had to investigate. Parco dei Mostri in Italian, The Park of the Monsters in English! Now that is one intriguing name!
Back in 1552 a grieving husband commissioned the building of this park. By 1552, Prince Pier Francesco Orsini was worn out from a long and difficult war including the death of a good friend of his and having been held hostage for a number of years. He finally returned home to be reunited with his beloved wife who unfortunately died shortly thereafter.
I can understand how this man was ready to “howl at the universe” if you will, in complete and utter frustration and anger.
He contacted famed architect Pirro Ligorio to build the park with strange and wild looking creatures. Art scholars describe the park as not being the typical neatly arranged and symmetrical Renaissance style, but instead features a more rustic and natural “Mannerist” style. They liken this style to Surrealism.
Anyway, art aside, I was interested to see what kind of monsters were included in the park. I guess not surprisingly, there was no Bigfoot or lake monster or aliens. But for the time, their selection of monsters is interesting and appropriately unsettling.
First up the head of Proteus and another head belonging to Glaucus. Legend says that Glaucus ate a magical herb and became a marine god. (I don’t see the head of Glaucus but it must be there somewhere.)
Next, Cerberus, the classic guardian of Hell, the three headed dog:
Elephant. This is interesting because it’s carrying the body of a Roman legionnaire in its trunk. That looks a little threatening to me, certainly mysterious.
Wonderful sculpture of a dragon along with a dog, lion and wolf.
Art historians believe the Prince may have wanted this added to the monster park just to amaze and astonish his guests who wouldn’t have seen anything like this before (earthquakes aside).
This really does look like a ferocious ogre! The funny part is, if you can bring yourself to enter the mouth, you’ll find a picnic table waiting for you on its tongue! Bon appetite! LOL!!
Echidna, the classic half woman, half snake. Two guardian lions sit nearby.
Neptune seated. We’ve all heard of him, but he looks good here.
Pegasus: the winged horse seems about ready to take off!
Jupiter: looking ferocious, the guides say he is there to guard Venus.
If you’d like to explore more sculptures from this interesting park, please follow this link:
If We Built One Today
It gets me thinking, though, what would be put in a modern day park of monsters? I’m afraid it would be all gory looking things like Freddie Krueger and other stuff like that! I think I’d like to see Bigfoot, a lake monster, dragons, Mothman, maybe a Jersey devil, aliens and UFOs. What a fun thing to design!
What would you like to see in a modern day park of monsters?