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Renaissance villa La Rotonda (1567–1591) by Andrea Palladio

With Villa ( Latin for "cottage", "estate") was originally a Roman villa and mansion called the landowner. Even in the Renaissance , the villa was a representative country estate of the ruling classes.

In the 19th century the name was transferred to the detached house of the upper class, which was often built on the outskirts or in residential areas . Then it became the generalizing name for sophisticated single-family houses .

In some regions beyond also were apartment buildings compound terms such as rental villa (z. B. in the Dresden area, referring to the villa-like outer shape) or floor villa (z. B. in Leipzig, referring to the villas like spacious flats) common. More recently, the term city ​​villa has been used generally for residential buildings with upscale furnishings - both for free-standing apartment buildings and for single-family houses in densely built-up urban areas .


The name villa originally stood for an elegant house in the country. In contrast to farms, however, villas were rarely used for agricultural purposes and their owners often had their main residence in a town house. The Italian villas of antiquity and renaissance, as country residences of the city nobility, formed a counterpart to their city ​​palaces . The villa culture has its tradition since ancient times. Already Pliny the Younger (61-113 n. Chr.) Preferred the secluded life in the country to the city life.

A villa is regarded as an expression of representative living culture and a refined way of life, the expression has a corresponding positive connotation. Therefore, the term villa is often used as a synonym for other forms of building: mansions as the center of agricultural goods or smaller castles are often referred to as villas. The bath villa in seaside resorts on the coast is a special form .

In addition, Villa designates in the word usage - like the German estate - the whole estate , and from the word the later Romanesque place names on Ville ( French ) and Villa ( Spanish , Pt. ) Were formed .

Cretan-Minoan culture

A large, sumptuously furnished country house of the Minoan culture that belonged to a high dignitary or a rich resident is called a villa.

Roman Empire

Barcola , a vacation spot in antiquity with a 19th century Villa Maritima. Miramare Castle

On the estates of the rich Romans, the manor house, built in the urban style, later mostly furnished with lavish luxury and furnished for all seasons, was called Villa urbana (urban villa) or, if it was located near the city, Villa suburbana (suburban villa). Next to this was the villa rustica (rural villa), which included the often very numerous farm buildings, vegetable, fruit, olive and vineyards. The villas of Lucullus , Augustus , Pompeius , Cicero , Hortensius Hortalus , Pliny , Caligula , Nero , Hadrian etc. and the Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily, which cannot be assigned to any owner, were villas that were distinguished by their particular splendor . Usually a wealthy Roman had several villas.

In Barcola near Trieste, as on the Amalfi Coast, there were several important Villa Maritimae . These particular examples of a Roman Villa Maritima were located directly on the coast and were divided into terraces into a representation area in which luxury and prosperity were shown, a separate living area, a garden, some facilities open to the sea and a thermal bath. Not far from this noble place, which was already popular with the Romans because of its favorable microclimate, one of the most important Maritime Villas of its time, the Miramare Castle , was built in the 19th century .

middle Ages

During the Carolingian era, the royal dairy farms or domains were called Villae regiae , where the kings stayed to keep court during their round trips. In terms of their economic structure, these royal estates are more or less comparable to that of a small village .

Renaissance and Baroque

The Roman villa construction was adopted by the Italians from the beginning of the 14th century and cultivated in the same variations. It reached its peak in the Renaissance and Baroque periods , and the most famous architects vied with each other for the most attractive villa complexes.

In 1452 Leon Battista Alberti wrote an extensive chapter on mansions in his ten books on architecture . Andrea Palladio became one of the most famous villa builders, his Villa Almerico near Vicenza , known as La Rotonda , is the ideal realization of a Renaissance villa.

Other artistically or historically significant Italian villas are the Villa Medici by Careggi near Florence , the Villa Farnesina by Baldassare Peruzzi , Villa Madama by Raffael , Villa Lante by Giulio Romano , Villa Borghese , Villa Mattei , Villa Medici and Villa Albani in and near Rome, the Villa d'Este near Tivoli , the Villa Aldobrandini and Villa Mondragone near Frascati , the Villa Doria near Genoa and the Villa Maser near Treviso .

19th and early 20th centuries

The Essen Villa Hügel of the Krupp entrepreneurial family, completed in 1873
Wilhelminian style quarters with entire quarters in villa development in Dresden : Tolkewitz , Blasewitz , Striesen , Gruna and Johannstadt

From the late 18th century, citizens began to build free-standing houses on the outskirts or in exposed places, which had gardens or front gardens, and which were separated from the closed buildings.

With the increasing prosperity of other middle classes, the demand for representative living space increased significantly. Villas were representative and offered enough space for large families and staff. From the middle of the 19th century onwards, so many villas were built that suburbs emerged in many larger cities , which consisted exclusively of villas that could also be lived in in winter. Until the first half of the 19th century, many late classicist houses outside the city gates were only habitable in the warm season (summer houses for the summer , country houses ). Until then, the drafts were mostly individual drafts. At the height of the development, schools were established around the middle of the century around important architecture professors such as B. the Semper-Nicolai-Schule in Dresden, which standardized the floor plans and elevations of villas and trained several generations of builders and architects with these tools. As a result, in addition to many individual buildings, entire so-called villa colonies were designed on the drawing board in a historicist style. In addition to the villa development, representative squares, avenues, shopping areas and parks were also created in a suitable style.

Classic examples of the singular villa and villa-like house from the 19th century are Villa Hügel , Villa Berg , Villa Lemm , Villa Haas , Villa Carlotta and Villa Pallavicini-Durazzo .

Front gardens , verandas , open balconies , bay windows and turrets in as picturesque a composition as possible are characteristic features of the urban villas in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. As villa colonies, for example, Lichterfelde-West in Berlin (from 1860, today a large area under monument protection) and Marienthal in Hamburg (from 1854) are preserved. At the end of the century, the new designs emergedDouble villa (consisting of two half villas ), which combined elements of urban villas often built into the street front with the detached country villa, as well as the rental villa , which was built with the same representative claim of the detached villa for two families and is separated from the villa by a separate staircase for the second family differed. In the demarcation of the more representative villa to the more simply stylized country house, there are various transitional forms that are described in terms of architectural history and monument preservation as villa-like country house or country house- like villa .

The boom in bourgeois villa construction, which has continued since the founding period, made the transition to Art Nouveau at the beginning of the 20th century and the architects felt a new spirit of optimism with the reform architecture of the German Werkbund , which turned against historicist eclecticism. This departure broke off abruptly in the middle of the First World War .

Interwar period

The last classic citizen villas were built in German and Austrian cities by 1917. From 1918 onwards, most of the houses were planned on a smaller scale, corresponding to the poor economic situation, and made less representative in line with the changed political situation. This was accompanied by the increasing use of the expression single-family house or single-family home .

Classical modernism reached its peak in the 1920s . Well-known examples of the era are the Bauhaus Masters' Houses in Dessau , Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier or the Villa Tugendhat by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe . The Expressionism contrast, coined after the war years, once again representative expectant villa architecture of the time at best in decorative details. In addition, in the twenties of that century, works of organic architecture , residential and other buildings were created whose shapes were influenced by anthroposophy . Houses of this style were also built after the Second World War. Conservative circles in Germany, on the other hand, preferred the homeland security architecture , which also belonged to the modern era , which, for political reasons, displaced classical modernism in home construction from the time of National Socialism .

After the Second World War

After the end of the Second World War, the traditionalist homeland security style was common as the design of the representative single-family house , followed by the bungalow style in the West German Federal Republic in the 1960s , often also referred to as a villa . The historicizing and picturesque villa played only a subordinate role for a long time. Beginning with the housing shortage after the destruction of World War II, many villas were divided into several residential units, later this continued because wealthy classes preferred new buildings. In the FRG the large plots of land were often divided and new buildings were built on the separated parts, many villas were also completely demolished in favor of modern new buildings. In the GDR, the use for other purposes predominated; there were mostly no new buildings here.

Late 20th century and present

It was only with the rediscovery of the still preserved historical villas and the subsequent renovation boom in the fourth quarter of the 20th century that the villa in West Germany experienced a new heyday. In many places, so-called patrician villas were rededicated as commercial buildings for prosperous law firms, and correspondingly large buildings were also converted into museums, such as on the Frankfurt Museumsufer .

An acceleration learned of the villas boom by since the turn for Western capital again to access large and relatively well-preserved residential area in East Germany, the region with the most and largest villas colonies. The villa districts in Dresden , for example , but also in and around Berlin now experienced steadily increasing demand, and for the first time large villas were built for private builders. A more recent example of villa construction in a classical style is a villa built by Hans Kollhoff in 2000 in Berlin-Grunewald. However, this almost exclusively affects economically prosperous regions; in structurally weak regions, old villas are often exposed to decay because there is a lack of financially strong builders.

In the United States , a new type of construction, the Millennium Mansion, has found widespread use since around 1985, especially in suburban locations . The term was coined in 2013 by the architectural historian Virginia Savage McAlester. A characteristic of Millennium Mansions is the attempt to achieve a maximum of representativeness with a minimal expenditure of costs, which in many cases occurs at the expense of the architectural quality. Such houses are therefore often disparagingly referred to as “McMansions”.


in alphabetical order by authors / editors



Northern Italian villa

  • Gerda Bödefeld and Berthold Hinz: The villas in Veneto. DuMont Verlag, Cologne 1987. ISBN 3-7701-1838-3 .
  • Martin Kubelik: On the typological development of the Quattrocento villa in Veneto. Süddeutscher Verlag, Munich. ISBN 3-7991-5989-4 (2 volumes, dissertation at RWTH Aachen University in 1976).
  • Wolfram Prinz u. a .: Studies on the beginnings of northern Italian villa construction. Frankfurt am Main 1969.

19th / 20th century

  • Wolfgang Brönner : The bourgeois villa in Germany 183.0-1890 .
  • Reinhard Dauber : Aachen villa architecture. The villa as a building task in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Aurel Bongers, Recklinghausen 1985, ISBN 3-7647-0371-7 .
  • Alexander Kierdorf: Industrial residences in the Ruhr area 1900–1914. Dissertation, University of Cologne 1996.
  • Bettina Nezval: Villas from the Imperial Era. Summer residences in Baden near Vienna. Vienna 1993, ISBN 978-3-902447-42-5 .
  • Anna Pixner Pertoll: Built in the light. The Merano Villas 1870–1914. Meran 2009, ISBN 978-88-7283-355-1 .
  • Wolfgang Richter, Jürgen Zänker: The bourgeois dream of the aristocratic palace. Aristocratic designs in the 19th and 20th centuries. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek 1988, ISBN 3-498-05712-X .
  • Gebr. R. Völkel: Modern villas in master watercolors. Series I. (around 1900).


  • Holger Reiners: The villa. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 2006. ISBN 978-3-421-03523-3 (overview of spectacular new villa buildings since about 2000).

Web links

Commons : Villas  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Villa  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Nikolaus Pevsner, Hugh Honor, John Fleming: Lexikon der Weltarchitektur. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1984, ISBN 3-499-16200-8 .
  2. Hans-Joachim Kadatz: Dictionary of architecture. Seemann, Leipzig 1988, ISBN 3-363-00393-5 .
  3. Zeno Saracino: “Pompei in miniatura”: la storia di “Vallicula” o Barcola. In: Trieste All News. 29 September 2018.
  4. ^ Virginia Savage McAlester: A Field Guide to American Houses. The Definite Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture . 2nd Edition. Knopf, New York 2013, ISBN 978-1-4000-4359-0 .
  5. McMansion Hell. Accessed August 21, 2020 .
  6. Popular Architectural Styles of the Past Century. Retrieved June 19, 2020 .
  7. McMansion Hell. Retrieved June 19, 2020 .