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Detailed Guide to What's Inside Castel Sant'Angelo

What’s the Castel Sant’Angelo?

The Hadrian's Mausoleum, sometimes referred to as Castel Sant'Angelo or the Castle of the Holy Angel, is a structure that can be found on the Tiber's right bank. The structure that is now a world-renowned museum once served as a colossal mausoleum, fortress, prison, private residence, and military headquarters.

It is possible to uncover the secrets of an exceptional and rather macabre Rome by looking at its past. For a more immersive experience of the place, you must go inside and admire Castel Sant'Angelo interior and learn what Rome was 2000 years ago.

Top things to See Inside Castel Sant'Angelo

Mausoleum in Castel Sant'Angelo

Mausoleum

As you enter inside Castel Sant’Angelo, at the very first floor you will find the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Here, the remains of Hadrian's children as well as those of his wife Sabina and themselves were interred. The ashes of succeeding emperors were also interred, together with those of their wives and close relatives. The names and positions of individuals buried here are listed on the inscriptions on the Mausoleum.

Passage of Boniface IX in Castel Sant'Angelo

Passage of Boniface IX

On level 2 you will find the passage of Boniface IX, an architectural marvel by Niccolo Lamberti for Boniface IX Tomacelli. The reconstructed medieval weapons, trap door and a guard room tell a story of the castle’s prison origin. The celebrated Florentine artist, Benvenuto Cellini was imprisoned here in the mid 1530s for an attempt to loot the papal funds. The Dominican Friar Giordano Bruno also saw the walls of Castel Sant'Angelo dungeons for he was imprisoned and later burned alive for his views on the state of the galaxy.

Military Exhibits in Castel Sant'Angelo

Military Exhibits

On the west of the courtyard on the third tier, you would come across a small structure known as the Armory. The structure has two levels: the lower armory on the level of the courtyard, and the top armory on the level of the Giretto di Alessandro VII. The room was primarily utilized by the castle's upper-level guards as a weapon storage area. About 6,000 pieces of weapons, armor, and military artifacts housed in the National Museum of Castel Sant'Angelo are on display in the four interconnecting chambers dubbed "upper armory."

Alexander VII Walkway of Castel Sant'Angelo

Alexander VII Walkway

In the 17th century Pope Alexander VII of the Chigi family  built a circular corridor with a series of arches, which had an open wall, at the front side. Upon reaching this walkaway you will be rewarded with a mesmerizing view of the Vatican museums and the city of Rome. You would also find Caffetteria Ristorante Le Terrazze which is a cozy restaurant/bar. Grab an espresso from this cafe while admiring the splendid views from here.

Courtyard of the Angel in Castel Sant'Angelo

Courtyard of the Angel

You will find the courtyard of Angel at the 3rd floor, which functioned as a reception area to the papal apartments. The rectangular shaped courtyard spans from north to south, on one side bordering the armory building and on the other, the papal apartments. At the very center of the courtyard is the statue of holy archangel Michael. The Castel Sant'Angelo is dedicated to the holy archangel, as it is believed that he made a legendary appearance atop the mausoleum of Hadrian.

Papal Apartments in Castel Sant'Angelo

Papal Apartments

The beautifully frescoed rooms of the Papal Apartments and the most magnificent art works, including ceramics, sculptures, and paintings, can be found on the fourth floor. Large rooms were built inside the castle over the centuries to accommodate the pope. Pope Paul III even converted a portion of the structure into a small palace in the 16th century.

Library of Castel Sant'Angelo

Library

The room got its name because it was close to the fortress's most secure area, the Sala del Tesoro, which was used as the papal archives and secret repository starting in the middle of the 15th century. The frescoes on the vault's ceiling are in a grotesque design, which rose to popularity following the Renaissance discovery of Nero's Golden House. The northern wing of Paolo III Farnese's apartment's focal point was this room, which was lavishly decorated in 1544. The Sala dell'Adrianeo and the Sala dei Festoni, two adjacent, tastefully designed chambers, are part of the library.

The Terrace of Castel Sant'Angelo

The Terrace

The bronze figure of the angel that Peter Anton von Verschaffelt sculpted in 1752 commands attention on the top terrace. The so-called "convict" and "mercy" bell, which at the time signaled executions, is located in the upper left corner. The Castel Sant’Angelo terrace is well-known for its role in Tosca's final act by Puccini. After witnessing her lover's death, the title character hangs herself from a building. The terrace is also famous for its views of the dome of Pantheon, Renaissance and baroque buildings and the finest city view of Rome.

Passetto di Borgo in Castel Sant'Angelo

Passetto di Borgo

The Pope's safety while traveling from his apartment in the Vatican to Castel Sant'Angelo is ensured by the Passetto di Borgo, which is a secured path. Additionally, Clement VII Medici used it to enter the fortress in search of safety during the 1527 Sack of Rome. The Passetto is around 800 meters long and is accessed via a modest entrance at Bastione San Marco. Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons featured the Passeto, which resulted in popularity of it among people.

Spiral Staircase in Castel Sant'Angelo

Spiral Staircase

This helical ramp spans a 12-meter height difference by starting at the Atrium and curving within the Mausoleum. This slope then immediately leads to the burial chamber, also known as the Hall of Urns. The ramp has no apertures on the outside other than the top, and it was built for the funeral procession that would depart the emperor on his last journey. To provide the spiral staircase with light, air holes were constructed. However, now the air holes are not needed for Castel Sant'Angelo is now powered by electricity, but don't miss out on gazing upwards to see how the castle used to be lit up in its hay days.

Grand Loggia in Castel Sant'Angelo

Grand Loggia

At the 4th level of Castel Sant’Angelo interior, you would find a white marble parapet, two freestanding columns, and two half columns positioned against the jambs that make up the building. Inscribed in painted cartouches in the vault are four Latin mottos that reflect the purpose of this portico space, which Julius II intended to be a "loggia of benefits."

Paolina Rooms in Castel Sant'Angelo

Paolina Rooms

The Sala Paolina, which serves as both the welcome area and the living room of Paul III Farnese, is without a doubt one of the most significant locations in the castle (1534-1549). Ambassadors and other guests were welcomed in the regal and magnificent hall of honor. Its decoration was largely influenced by Alexander the Great and St. Paul, making it one of the most significant pieces of sixteenth-century Rome's creative heritage.

Can I Go Inside Castel Sant’Angelo?

You can access Castel Sant'Angelo interiors and uncover the mysterious past of Rome by purchasing Castel Sant'Angelo tickets during your visit to Rome. With your entry tickets, you can discover the historically significant aspects of the castle, starting from the mausoleum of Hadrian to the Grand Loggia, Passetto di Borgo, House of Urns and much more. If you are a history buff, make it a point to book a guided tour so you can fully immerse yourself in the castle's rich history

You can book your tickets online and in advance to skip the long queue at the physical counter. But if you are visiting on the first Monday of a month, the entry inside Castel Sant’Angelo is free.




Book Your Castel Sant'Angelo Tickets

Visitor Tips

  • Book your tickets in advance so that you can avoid the long queues at the physical ticket counter.
  • Visit Castel Sant’Angelo during the early hours so you can avoid the late-afternoon crowd.
  • Consider taking the metro to the castle as it lies at a very short distance from the Otaviano station or Lopiano.
  • Discover what’s inside Castel Sant’Angelo for free by visiting on the month’s first Sunday but prepare yourself for the brimming crowd.
  • Pick your footwear carefully because the tour of Sant’Angelo involves a lot of walking.
  • Do not miss out on the sunset from the Castel Sant’Angelo terrace  if you are visiting during the summers.
  • After you have experienced what’s inside Castel Sant’Angelo, you could visit the little cafe situated right at the top of the castle.
  • Get a prodigious view of the castle at large when you stroll down the pedestrian bridge over the Tiber river.

Frequently Asked Questions about What's Inside Castel Sant'Angelo

Q. What is inside the Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. As you go inside Castel Sant’Angelo, you will find the Papal’s quarters, the Hadrian’s Tomb, execution ground, frescoes, well-preserved fortress and more.

Q. Do I need a ticket to go inside the Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. Yes, you need to get tickets to go inside Castel Sant’Angelo, it is recommended that you buy the tickets online to avoid the never-ending queue.

Q. Can I take a guided tour inside the Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. You can take an expert guided tour inside the Castel Sant’Angelo. You could also take an audio-guided tour which will help you to explore the place at your own pace.

Q. Do you need skip-the-line tickets to enter inside Castel Sant Angelo?

A. By booking skip-the-line tickets to enter Castel Sant’Angelo Rome, you can escape the hurdle of standing in a long queue at the physical ticket booking counter.

Q. How big is the Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. Castel Sant’Angelo is a six storey building which is 10.2 meters high, and it has 58 rooms in total.

Q. What are some must-see highlights inside the Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. Some highlights inside the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome include  the Mausoleum of Hadrian, the Bastions, the Papal Quarters, and the Castel Sant'Angelo terrace.

Q. What are some unique things I can see inside the Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. Some of the unique things that you will see inside the Castel Sant’Angelo Rome are the frescoed walls of the castle, center of Hadrian’s Mausoleum, spiral staircases, the grand Loggia, and the statue of a kissing couple.

Q. What are some unique things I can do inside the Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. Climbing the spiral staircase inside the Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the unique things that you will do here. As you make your way to the top, you will come across a cafe bar where you can grab a drink and enjoy the vistas of Rome.

Q. Can I go inside the Castel Sant’Angelo?

Yes, you can go inside the Castel Sant’Angelo Rome by booking your tickets. It is advised that you book your tickets in advance to skip the hassle of the long queue.

Q. Can I take pictures inside the Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. Yes, you are free to click pictures inside Castel Sant’Angelo.

Q. Is it free to go inside the Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. No, you have to buy tickets to go inside Castel Sant’Angelo. It is recommended that you buy the tickets well in advance to skip the long lines in front of the entrance.

Q. Is going inside the Castel Sant’Angelo worth it?

A. Visiting the Castel Sant’Angelo is definitely worth it and not only because of the exterior beauty of the monument but also because of what it has to offer inside. When you enter inside Castel Sant’Angelo you will get an idea of how Rome has changed over a period of 2000 years.

Q. What are the opening hours to go inside Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. The opening hours within which you can enter inside Castel Sant’Angelo is from 9 AM to 7.30 PM.