Very close to the Vatican we find one of the most famous and photographed castles in the world.
It is the Castel Sant’Angelo, also called Hadrian’s Mausoleum, and is known by the nickname “The Guardian of Rome”.
It forms a splendid ensemble with the bridge that crosses the Tiber River, the Sant’Angelo Bridge, and despite having been built in the 2nd century, it is perfectly preserved.
History of the Castle of Sant’Angelo
It was the Emperor Hadrian who ordered its construction in the year 135 to become his own mausoleum, although its works ended in 139, one year after his death.
Despite this, his ashes were deposited there while it was being built right after he died.
The ashes of his wife and children and of different later emperors such as Marcus Aurelius or Septimius Severus were also deposited there.
Later, in the 5th century, the mausoleum was also converted into a fortress after being integrated into the Aurelian wall, which could not prevent the ashes and tombs inside from being lost after a Visigothic attack in 410.
Subsequently, it suffered various Visigothic attacks that caused damage and also the loss of some works of art.
As a result, the Castle of Sant’Angelo underwent various renovations and extensions, one of the most important being the 800-meter passageway that Pope Nicholas II had built in 1277 to communicate with the Vatican and so that the Pope could escape in case of danger.
Today it is one of the most interesting monuments in Rome and that everyone takes advantage of to visit combining it with a visit to the Vatican.
What to see in the Castle of Sant’Angelo
Visiting the interior of the Castle of Sant’Angelo is not essential either.
Although if you want to enjoy great views from the top then we do recommend that you do so. What is essential is to walk around the surroundings.
Inside the building there are different models that will help you to understand its history and its evolution and will also help you in the tour that you can take inside.
When you enter the castle you will ascend a helical ramp that surrounds the mausoleum and that will take you to the Chamber of Ashes where the characters who were here were buried.
Another notable area is the fortress itself.
In it we find different cells where numerous prisoners lived and we will understand the role of the building during the Middle Ages and until the 19th century.
It is also necessary to highlight the part dedicated to the Palace where we find numerous frescoes on the ceiling and the Renaissance decoration of its rooms. It is shaped like a labyrinth and this part was used as a papal residence.
Since the 19th century, the building began to be administered by the Italian army and in 1925 the National Museum of the Castle of San’t Angelo was created, exhibiting important samples of ceramics, painting, sculpture and also weapons.
Finally, we must not forget to go up to the upper terrace and enjoy unique views of St. Peter’s in the Vatican and from where we can also see the passageway that connects the castle with the Basilica.
The Sant’Angelo Bridge
We cannot forget one of the most beautiful bridges in Rome.
The Sant’Angelo Bridge forms a very special ensemble with the castle and has its origins in Roman times, although only the three central arches remain from that time.
It is currently a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Tiber River, where it is a delight to walk and admire the two sculptures of Saint Peter and Saint Paul that are at its entrance and that date from the 16th century, as well as the different statues that were sculpted by disciples of Bernini. And two of them also by the Italian genius himself
You can find more information on the official page of the Castle of Sant’Angelo.