Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome
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Its appearance today is the result of a long series of transformations that, in reality, have left no traces of the glorious Roman “Hadrianeum”, the mausoleum that Emperor Hadrian built for himself and his successors. Indeed, we must try and imagine an enormous cylinder positioned on a square plan, with a garden top covered with tuff, travertine and copious trees.
The Castel Sant’Angelo was built as a tomb of the Emperor Hadrian and, over the centuries, used as different functions: defense fortress, dungeon, Renaissance residence, and, today, museum and venue for cultural and social events.
The Castle has five floors. The first has a winding ramp of Roman Construction, the second features the prison cells, the third is the military floor with big courtyards, the fourth is the floor of the popes, and contains the most magnificent art, and the fifth is a huge terrace with a fine view of the city.
In 1277, Castel Sant’Angelo was connected to the Vatican by a rather infamous corridor called the Passetto di Borgo, allowing the castle to become a refuge of Popes when Rome was under seige. Castel Sant’Angelo was an equal opportunity castle; it also hosted popes in its prisons.
The popes then converted the fortress into a castle. Pope Nicholas the 3rd then had the Passetto di Borgo built. This was a fortified passage to the castle from the Vatican. The castle was also used as a prison and executions were also carried out on its premises.
The reason that the castle has its name is that legend says that an angel, Saint Michael, appeared to Pope Gregory on top and sheathed his sword as a sign that the plague had ended in Rome. A stone statue was then built on top of the castle but was later replaced by a bronze one.
Today it is visited by tourists from all over the world and is home to the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo. In summer time, the Castle livens up with shows and exhibitions; restaurants and bars welcome and offer visitors an entertaining evening within an extraordinary setting. The wonderful panorama of Rome visible from the Terrace and the famous Passetto is even more spectacular when the city lights illuminate the night and the waters of the Tiber River.
Travel2Italy with a variety of Italy travel packages including exceptional Rome private tours provides you with the opportunity to visit and explore the magnificent Castel Sant’Angelo and its grounds while also enjoying a beautiful panoramic view of the eternal city.
Photograph by © Fczarnowski
Photograph by © Ryar Wood
Photograph by © Alessandro Paglialunga
Photograph by © Radomil
Photograph by © Andreas Tille