The Castel San't Angelo was originally commissioned as the tomb of Roman Emperor Hadrian (who built the Hadrian Wall in Great Britian) and was finished in 139 AD after he died. The Castle was originally designed as a mausoleum shaped in a cylinder, with a garden top and golden quadriga. Other emperors up to Emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus lie buried here and the structure was destroyed in 401 AD when a fortress was built in it's place which remained up to the 14th century when the present Castel San't Angelo was rebuilt into a Papal Fortress and also as a Prison (the Popes were then the Heads of State of the Papal States of Central Italy) and connected to the Vatican by the famous Passetto Di Borgio (as seen in the film Angels and Demons in 2009). The famous Saint Michael Statue at the top was done in 1530 AD.
At Present, the Castle is now a museum called Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo and is filled with has various exhibits ranging from Renaissance paintings and pottery to antique military weapons.
8 Euros per person all ages
2 euros for entrance to Passetto DI Borgio (during summers).
the main road of Via della Conciliazione, that connects Castel San Angelo to Vatican City has a parallel wall with a secret passage in it and this was made famous by the film Angels and Demons when Robert Langdon crosses this passageway from Castel San Angelo to go back to Vatican City. This passageway is called Passetto di Borgo of which was erected in 1277 by Pope Nicholas III as a means for the Popes to escape danger and attact at the Vatican City. It is roughly 800 meters (1/2 mile) long and is open to the public in summer for a limited time.
This castle was built around 123 d. C. as a tomb for emperor Adrian and his successors. It was completed by Antoninus Pius in 139.
The name Castel Sant Angelo comes from the legend of Saint Gregorio Magno who had a vision of an angel appearing on the fortress, and announcing the end of the plague.
In the fifth century this castle was converted into a fortress and incorporated into the city defensive walls. During the middle ages it was occupied by many noble families. In 1377 it came under full papal control. In the XIVth century, pope Nicholas III linked the castle with a covered passageway to the Vatican; the so called passetto di Borgo. So that the popes could seek refuge in the castle if the Vatican was besieged. From the late '400 the papal apartments were built inside the castle. Castel Sant Angelo was also used as a prison and execution place.
The castle is made of five levels. On the forth you can visit some papal rooms. There are some nice covered passages around the castle where you can enjoy some beautiful views over the city and rest a bit.
There are some facilities inside the castle; as a cafe restaurants, the toilets and a lift for disabled people.
There is quite a bit to see in Rome but if you have a chance to see Castel Sant' Angelo, it is well worth the "look see". Great views of the city and you can have a "tour" of it but that probably isn't necessary. Save your money for tours of the Vatican and the Colosseum.
Admission is €8 for adults (in 2011). April to September 9am-7pm, October to March 9am-2pm. Closed on public holidays. We did not have to wait in line for our visit.
Some tidbits about Castel Sant' Angelo:
Roman Emperor Hadrian built it as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle.
Include this place in your walking trip. I came past the Castel Sant' Angelo during my walk from the Vatican to the Pantheon. Great views of the river Tiber and its bridges. Near the castle, I bought a Jumping Jack doll (the kind with a rope, that makes the arms and legs 'jump' up if you pull the rope) for our foster-grandchild. The man who sold me the toy had in fact two of these, but I explained to him that I needed just one, as there was only one child to give it to.
The mausoleum started its transformation to a fortress when it was included into the Aurelian wall and became a "castellum". In 537 when the Visigoths attacked Rome it proved its value. The defenders used the bronze statues as projectiles. Over the centuries the defensive role of the fortress grew in importance as it controlled the northern route to the city and got linked by the fortified area of the Borgo to the Vatican palaces. The prominent Roman families disputed its possession until the castle became a defensive place for the Pope.
The spiral ramp and the atrium were closed and a new entrance was opened with a drawbridge.
A square wall called "Marcia Ronda" with bastions at the corners called after the four evangelists was constructed. A moat was created around the walls. Inside the cylindrical body a diametrical ramp was built which leads to the second level with the room of the urns, the silos and to the third level called "Giretto Coperto" or Covered Tower. The main courtyard at this third level is called "Cortille dell'Angelo" because here was found the statue of the archangel Michael who decorated the top of the castle until 1747.
Here is the entrance to the papal apartments. There is another courtyard "Cortille d'Alessandro VI" showing a replica (?) of a catapult.
The Mausoleum of Hadrian
This huge castle is over 2,000 years old. It is situated just across the river Tiber. A good crossing point would be at the Ponte Sant' Angelo.
It is today a huge museum with 58 rooms. We went in and took a look at the violins, but too be honest if you've seen one violin you've maybe seen them all.
It has excellent grounds, so if you don't feel like paying the entrance fee, why not just get a picnic and cool down from the heat of Rome in the park.
To be honest, I didn't find the area around the Vatican to be all that interesting, with the very clear exception of Castel Sant'Angelo. This round structure was built on the right bank of the Tiber River in the 2nd century under emperor Hadrian. Initially, it was meant to be a mausoleum for him and his family, and the imperial urns containing their ashes were placed to rest in the treasury room of the castle. However, because of its strategic location on the Tiber, the Castel became a fortress in the 4th century, and when the popes returned to Rome after their brief stint in Avignon, Castel Sant'Angelo was chosen to house the official papal residence because of its proximity to St. Peter's Basilica (a fortified corridor called "Passetto di Borgo" was built to link the two so that the pope could escape quickly and find shelter within the fortress should the Vatican come under attack). Some rooms within the castle were remodeled to reflect its new vocation.
Admission to Castel Sant'Angelo costs 10.50 Euros and gives access to all of the castle's six floors, and I very much enjoyed being able to roam around the castle at my own pace (audioguides are available but not essential to enjoy your visit). I was very impressed with the monumental spiral staircase that leads up to the treasury room, especially when I tried to picture it the way it used to be, with mable-covered walls and floors entirely covered with mosaic tiles (there are some patches left to stir up your imagination). Once you reach the third floor, you have access to the part of Castel Sant'Angelo that was transformed to house the pope's residence. These rooms are all lavishly decorated, and some are now used to display the Castel's small art collection. I also very much enjoyed having access to the rooftop terrace the end of the tour. Not only do you get to see the bronze statue of Michael the Archangel from up close, but you also get a splendid view of the city and St. Peter's Basilica. Castel Sant'Angelo turned out to be one of my favourite museums in the city, so I recommend you set plenty of time aside for it, and should you have some time left at the end of your visit, then I recommend stopping by the castle's outdoor cafe to have a (slightly overpriced) drink and refreshments while enjoying the view!
An enormous maze of underground tunnels, bridges, courtyards with new views from ea angle as you roam around, up and down. We didn't think of going there when we read it has prison artifacts but when we were advised to do Coliseum & Forum on one day, with our Omnia card ,we had coming to us another historical attraction. Hadrian tombs that evolved into a fortress-The three hours that we roamed around the entire site reading the signs and understanding its place in history was well worth the visit. The place is massive. A lot to take in and contemplate. (loads of steps and passages and we saw numerous families with children trying out every one.)
Hubby and I both had the Castel Sant’Angelo on our must-see lists, but each for different reasons. He is interested in military history so the idea of visiting this very old fortress in the center of Rome interested him, clearly visible from his enjoyment of the displays of ancient military equipment and canons. To be honest, military history bores me to tears – I am much more interesting in the cultural events surrounding an era than who fought who and which division flanked the other. So for me, the Castel Sant’Angelo was a spot that I wanted to see because it was where Pope Clement VII was held after the sacking of Rome – the pope that England’s King Henry VIII appealed for his divorce from his first wife (which Clement was willing to agree with since his captor at the time was the wife’s nephew!).
There is supposed to be a tunnel between the Vatican and the castle, but I never found it. Although it does make sense that, rather than the pope running down the street with all the other people during an attack, he would be quietly whisked away through an underground tunnel to his fortress down the road.
But Castel Sant’Angelo is much more than Clement’s prison. It was originally designed by Roman emperor Hadrian in AD 138 for his mausoleum. After all, one of the perks of being a great leader was to be able to pay for a large funerary monument for you to be remembered for eons down the road. One of my favorite signs while touring the Castel was a small sign on the lower level as we were walking along some rough walkways; it read “Danger underfoot due to uneven stretches of flooring datable to the Age of Hadrian.” How cool is that! To be able to walk where the early Romans walked and who knows who else walked on this same path!
There are multiple layers to Castel Sant’Angelo and steps leading you up to the top which provides a grand view of St. Peter’s and of Rome. There is a restaurant at the top where you can relax and enjoy a snack along with the view. And it seemed that at every turn, there was a little display of something to look at. The signs were pretty good at having both Italian and English on them, so I was able to understand what I was viewing.
The Castel Sant’Angelo gets its current name (rather than Hadrian’s Masoleum) from the vision that Pope Gregory had in the 6th century – the archangel Michael landed on top of the mausoleum, drawing his sword and ending the plague. So you will find the angel Michael on the top of the Castel Sant’Angelo and another statue in one of the inner courtyards.
Another thing I enjoyed seeing was the various layers of stone used to build the structure through the years. Early on it would’ve been faced with marble, but unfortunately, like the Colosseum, it was used as a home improvement store and stones were carted off for other building projects, the most famous being the old St. Peter’s church.
Today the Castel Sant’Angelo is a museum, open daily for tourists. The current admission is €8,50 (2012). There is also a nice park full of tall trees around on the back of the Castel that has places to sit and equipment for children to play on.
Originally begun by the Emperor Hadrian in AD 123 as a mausoleum for himself and his successors, it was completed by Antoninus Pius in 139. In 271, the Emperor Aurelian incorporated the pile into the defence system he designed: it lost its function as a tomb to become a fortress.
In 1277 it was occupied by Nicholas II who connected it to the Vatican by a safety passage which runs along the top of the encircling wall of Vatican City. Henceforth, it remained in the control of the Popes who used it as a fortress, but also as a prison and a place for torture.
It is famous not only for the 'secret' passage connecting it to the Vatican, but also for the winding spiral ramp, approx. 400 feet long, leading from the ground floor, giving access to the papal chambers and other rooms, to the terrace at the top - the parapet here is the one from which Tosca, in Puccini's opera of that name, plunges to her death. The views from the top are absolutely amazing. Don't take photos inside, you'll get shouted at!
Entry Fee May 2015 10.50euro
As I notice it's becoming more and more popular to open an access to some sights at night, at least in summer time. And this is great experience! Firstly, there are less visitors. Secondly, night magic makes its work and adds a magic spell on the monuments...
I would recommend to book tickets in advance via internet to avoid queue at the entrance.
It is possible to join an excursion but we decided to explore the castle by ourselves. And we were surprised. It was announced that the excursion takes 45 minutes. We spent 2,5 hours (and we hardly noticed it ) and we didn't stop to listen to the night concert that was held in the attrium.