Villa Jovis is the largest of the twelve Tiberian villas on Capri mentioned by Tacitus. The entire complex, spanning several terraces and a difference in elevation of about 40 m, covers some 7,000 m² (1.7 acres). While the remaining eight levels of walls and staircases only hint at the grandeur the building must have had in its time, recent reconstructions have shown the villa to be a remarkable testament to 1st-century Roman architecture.
The north wing of the building contained the living quarters, while the south wing saw administrative use. The east wing was meant for receptions, whereas the west wing featured an open-walled hall (ambulatio) which offered a scenic view towards Anacapri.
As water was difficult to come by where the villa was built, Roman engineers constructed an intricate system for the collection of rainwater from the roofs and a large cistern that supplied the palace with fresh water.
Access to the complex is only possible on foot, and involves an uphill walk of about two kilometres from Capri town.
Apparently, the main motivations for Tiberius’s move from Rome to Capri were his wariness of the political manoeuvring in Rome and a lingering fear of assassination. The villa is situated at a very secluded spot on the island and Tiberius’s quarters in the north and east of the palatial villa were particularly difficult to reach and heavily guarded.
The Villa Jovis is also, at least according to Suetonius, the place where Tiberius engaged in wild debauchery. Modern historians regard these tales as sensationalized, but Suetonius’ stories at least paint a picture of how Tiberius was perceived by the Roman people at the time.