Mausoleum of Hadrian | History of Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant AngeloMausoleum of Hadrian

The Mausoleum of Hadrian is a Roman architectural tour de force that attracts nearly 7.1 million tourists each year. An all-in-one representation of Rome’s archaeological heritage, the Mausoleum of Hadrian evolved from a tomb to a military fortress and a palace. 

On this page, you will find the details on everything about Hadrian Mausoleum, its history, and the tourist attraction that it has become. 

What is the Mausoleum of Hadrian?

Mausoleum of Hadrian

Who was Hadrian?

The Roman Empire was under the extensive transformational reign of Emporer Publius Aelius Hadrianus from AD 117 to 138. The ambitious Emperor is credited for his contributions that has given Rome the elegance and grandeur it holds today. 

Hadrianus was the adopted successor of Trajan. He had an ear for music and appreciated art. He composed several pieces of poetry, only four of which survive to this day. His love for architecture came out in the form of his innovations. 

The Pantheon, the Tivoli Villa and the Temple of Venus and Roma are some of the Emperor’s significant contributions that recognized him as one of the '5 good emperors' in the history of the Roman Civilization. 

Who is buried at the Mausoleum of Hadrian?

The Mausoleum of Hadrian is of historical and symbolic importance to Roman civilization. The urn containing the last remains of Hadrian is placed inside the mausoleum. The urns of Hadrian’s wife Sabina and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, also remain enclosed next to Hadrian’s, in a Treasury Room present inside the mausoleum. 

Several successors followed the custom of being buried here until Caracalla. The monument had a beautiful garden and a colossal depicting four horses or a Quadriga. These intrinsic details wore out by 401 AD.

Hadrian’s Mausoleum Today

The Mausoleum of Hadrian went through several reformations over the years. It was coined the name ‘Castel Sant’Angelo’ after several changes and renovations by the succeeding emperors. 

Mausoleum of Hadrian Today

From Hadrian’s Mausoleum to Castel Sant’Angelo

  • Built between AD 135 - 139, Hadrian’s Mausoleum was the burial place of the Antonine Emperors.
  • The mausoleum was converted into a fortress in the 5th century. 
  • A devastating plague hit Rome in the 590s. Gregory the great visualized Archangel Michael standing at the summit of the mausoleum and swinging his sword to protect his people. A sculpture depicting the same was erected, and the mausoleum was renamed Castel Sant’Angelo.
  • The Renaissance paved the way to a complete reformation of the Mausoleum of Hadrian. A castle was constructed over the ancient remains of the Mausoleum. 
  • Castel Sant’Angelo acted as the residence, courtroom, prison, and fortress for several generations.
Castel Sant'Angelo

Ancient remains and current structure

  • The main structure of the tomb that is visible today is a square base and an evolving and protruding cylindrical drum. The uppermost region of the Tomb is reconstructed into a palace. 
  • About 292 feet wide, the castle has five floors of exhibits, each connected by a spiral ramp.
  • You can view beautifully decorated rooms containing frescos and a collection of weapons.
  • The terrace above gives a panoramic view of Rome.
  • The original statues on the pedestrian bridge across the Tiber could not be preserved and were lost among other significant ruins. Bernini designed the ten angel statues that stand on Ponte Sant'Angelo in 1688. 

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All Your Questions about Hadrian’s Mausoleum Answered

Q. Where is the Mausoleum of Hadrian located?

A. The Mausoleum of Hadrian is located at Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM, Italy.

Q. Who is buried in the Mausoleum of Hadrian?

A. The Emperor of Hadrian, his wife Sabina and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, as well as several successors until Caracalla is buried in the Mausoleum of Hadrian.

Q. Who was Emperor Hadrian?

A. Emperor Hadrian was the adopted successor of Trajan. Hadian ruled Rome from AD 117 to 138.

Q. What happened to the ashes of Hadrian?

A. The urns containing the ashes of Hadrian are kept inside the Treasury Room inside the Mausoleum of Rome.

Q. Can visitors see Hadrian’s tomb at Castel Sant’Angelo?

A. Hadrian’s Tomb is open to public view.