Built as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 139 A.D., Castel Sant'Angelo was converted into a fortress by various popes in the years that followed. Since 1906 the castle has been used as a museum.
Since 1901, visitors to the 58 rooms of the Museo di Castel Sant'Angelo can not only learn more about the history of the building, but also admire weapons, furniture and utensils from the Castel.
The Bridge of Angels, which connects the former mausoleum with the other bank of the Tiber, is also particularly worth seeing. It is decorated by statues of angels and saints once created by Bernini and his students.
The mausoleum was constructed in the style of Etruscan architecture and completed in the year 139 AD. Apart from emperor Hadrian and his wife, both emperors Marc Aurel and Commodus among many others were also interred here.
Thanks to its solid construction, this tower-like edifice could perfectly be integrated as a citadel into the fortification of the city. From the 10th century on, it was owned by the Pope and henceforth used as a refuge and prison.
In 1277 the 800 m long Corridoio di Borgo was built into the wall. Through this corridor the Castle of Sant' Angelo was connected to the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. When the army of emperor Charles V. was plundering Rome, Pope Clemens VII. could escape through the Corridoio di Borgo and hide in the castle.
Its melodic name is derived from the moment Pope Gregory had a vision in the year 590 AD during a plague epidemic. Legend has it that the archangel Gabriel occurred above the mausoleum to proclaim the end of the epidemic. When all of the sudden the city began to rehabilitate from the pest soon after Gregory's epiphany, the whole city started believing in this wonder. As a sign of gratitude, Pope Pius II. had constructed a chapel on this very place. The bronze statue on the top of the building is still reminiscent of this occurrence. The marble angel that was decorating the roof so beautifully from 1577 until 1753 can nowadays only be viewed from inside the courtyard.
- The day pass at Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant Angelo is €12 making it the cheapest tourist attraction in Lazio.
How to get there
You can get here by using the following bus lines:
23, 34, 70, 46B, 62, 98, 280, 870, 881, and 982