Castel Sant' Angelo Rome | All You Need To Know About The Mausoleum of Hadrian
While a majority of the monuments from the Roman era are in ruins, the breathtaking Castel Sant’Angelo Rome has managed to stand the test of time for almost 2000 years. This unique monument has had several structural and architectural transformations throughout history, starting as the tomb of Roman Emperor Hadrian to eventually becoming a fortress, the Pope’s residence, a prison, and finally a museum. The museum currently houses artwork, frescoes, sculptures, and much more from various moments in Roman history. Read on to find out more about the mausoleum-turned-museum.
What is Castel Sant’Angelo?
The Castel Sant’Angelo Rome was originally built as the tomb of Roman Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD. This mausoleum was eventually converted into a military fortress that protected Rome during the Middle Ages. Since then, it has served as the Papal Residence, a prison during the Renaissance era and now, as one of Rome’s museums. Other than serving as a repository of historical information, it is a site of immense cultural value that houses many sculptures, architecture, frescoes, and more.
History of Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome
Although the iconic Castel Sant’Angelo Rome has served as a fortress, palace, and prison across history, it was built as a mausoleum for Roman emperor Hadrian and his family back in AD 139. The tomb was erected on the bank of River Tiber, and his ashes were placed here a year after his demise. The ashes of his wife, Sabina, and son, Lucius Aelius were also placed here. The mains of succeeding emperors, until Caracalla in AD 217, has also been deposited here. In addition to this tomb, Hadrian is also known for building the Temple of Venus & Roma, The Pantheon, and the Villa at Tivoli.Mausoleum of Hadrain
3rd Century to the Middle Ages
Castel Sant’Angelo Rome was converted to a fortress by Emperor Aurelian, making it a strategic point for Roman warfare. In the 590s Pope Gregory had a vision of the archangel Michael sheathing his sword over the castle, signifying the end of the plague, thus lending the structure its name. Castel Sant'Angelo Rome passed through the hands of various Popes and served as residence, prison, courts, in addition to being a fortress. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, Pope Nicholas III had the Passetto di Borgo built, which connects the Vatican to the Castle
Renaissance and Later
During the Renaissance, Castel Sant’Angelo Rome underwent a complete transformation under Cardinal Della Rovere, who preferred to reside inside the Castle rather than in the Vatican Palace. The Papal residences were renovated during this time. The Loggia towards the Tiber was also built.
A massive castle was built on the ancient ruins of the Hadrian Mausoleum and the majority of the original statues on the Ponte Sant'Angelo were lost. The ten statues we see on the bridge today were designed by Bernini in 1668 and the two statues of St. Peter & St. Paul at the end of the bridge were erected in 1624.
After serving as a prison, barracks, and even a warehouse for war materials, it was decommissioned in 1901. The Mausoleum was completely abandoned until Colonel Luigi Durand de la Penne and Captain Mariano Borgatti decided to restore it.
After a massive 6-year-long restoration campaign, it was inaugurated as a museum by King Vittorio Emanuele III. Inside Castel Sant Angelo, visitors can view the famous open-air scenography, restored fifteenth-century shops, numerous works of art, statues, frescoes and even visit the Papal Apartments that are furnished with authentic pieces of history.
Castel Sant’Angelo Rome Highlights
Works of Art
Castel Sant'Angelo Rome has amassed a huge collection of art over time. A majority of these are accessible to the public and are located at the heart of the castle. You will find fragments from the ancient Hadrian tomb that found its way back to the mausoleum after several restoration campaigns, artworks that were donated by private collectors like Contini Bonaccorsi, as well as sculptures and frescoes from the Renaissance period. As visitors make their way through the five floors, they can view the carefully preserved murals, and on the roof, they will find the famous sculpture of Archangel Michael, which is the crown jewel of this mausoleum.
Passetto di Borgo
The Passetto di Borgo is an elevated corridor that links the Castel Sant'Angelo with the Vatican City. This 800-meter-long passageway was built in 1277 and was commissioned by Pope Nicholas III. During this time the fortress also happened to serve as the Pope’s Residence.
The passage served as an escape route for Popes in case of an attack. Pope Alexander VI used it when Charles VIII invaded Rome in 1494 and Clement VII crossed it during the Sack of Rome in 1527. Visitors can see the passage from the castle and it is occasionally opened to the general public in the summer months.
The Ponte Sant’Angelo is a bridge on the bank of the Tiber River that connects the Castel Sant’Angelo to the city. The 135-meter bridge was built by Emperor Hadrian.
Initially known as the Aelian Bridge or Hadrian’s Bridge, it was used by Christian pilgrims as a passageway to St. Peter’s Basilica. However, during the 7th Century, when Archangel Michael's statue was erected at the mausoleum, the bridge was renamed the Ponte Sant’Angelo. During the Renaissance era, the Pope commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to sculpt 10 angels to be erected on either side of the bridge.
Plan Your Visit to Castel Sant’Angelo Rome
Daily: 9 AM to 7.30 PM
Closed: January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.
Best time to visit Castel Sant'Angelo Rome: Visiting Castel Sant’Angelo Rome between September to March allows you to enjoy the cool weather, which might be particularly helpful as you make your way through five floors of the castle. On the day of the visit, head on to Castel Sant'Angelo around the evening to avoid crowds.Castel Sant'Angelo Rome Timings
Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM, Italy
The castle is a 10-minute walk from Piazza Navona and a 5-minute walk from Piazza San Pietro.
By Bus: You can take 62, 23, 271, 982, 280 to get off at the Piazza Pia stop, which is 5 minutes away. You can also board buses 40, 34, 49, 87, 926, 990, 64 and 46.
By Metro: Take line A and get off at Lepanto station. It is a 17-minute walk from here to Castel Sant’Angelo.Getting to Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome
All Your Questions Answered About Castel Sant’Angelo Rome
A. Castel Sant'Angelo Rome was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his successors in AD 123-139. Over the years, the structure has served as a fortress, prison, and Papal Quarters. It is currently a museum.
A. Castel Sant’Angelo Rome was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian in 123 AD and it was completed in 135 AD.
A. The Castel Sant’Angelo Rome is famous for being the tomb of Emperor Hadrian. It is also known serving as a fortress and prison to the Papal residence throughout history. Today, the museum is known for its cultural and historical value.
A. Emperor Hadrian’s tomb is located at Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome.
A. Although the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Mausoleum went through major renovations and reconstructions throughout history, it is currently standing as a museum of cultural value.
A. Inside Castel Sant’Angelo Rome, you can find Hadrian's Tomb, the Papal quarters, fortress, execution ground, and well-preserved frescos and more.
A. The Castel Sant’Angelo is currently a museum of immense cultural and social significance.
A. No, Castel Sant’Angelo Rome does not belong to the Vatican City. It belongs to the Republic of Italy and is administered by the National Museum Department of the Rome City Council.
A. The Castel Sant'Angelo Rome ticket prices start as € 15.