Many often overlook this building in favor of, well, the Vatican. However, Castel Sant Angelo has its own fantastic history.
Initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family, this iconic structure has transformed over the years, serving various purposes that reflect the rich tapestry of Rome’s past.
Castel Sant’Angelo has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, making it a living chronicle of Rome’s history. Originally constructed in 123 AD by Emperor Hadrian, the mausoleum has served as a fortress, a prison, and even a residence for popes.
After his death, they kept Emperor Hadrian’s ashes, along with those of his wife and adopted son, here. When you visit, take a minute to look up at the magnificent chariot pulled by four horses guided by Hadrian. Emperor Caracalla was the last person laid to rest here.
Around 403 A.D., they turned the building into a fortress. Pope Gregory I gave it the current name in 590 when he organized a procession with the population of Rome to stop the plague tearing through the city. As the procession approached Hadrian’s Mausoleum, the Pope had a vision of the Archangel Michael with his sword pointing down. Following this event, the plague ended. The Pope changed the building’s name, and in the 13th century, they added the sculpture of the angel to the top of the monument.
In 1277, the papacy acquired the building and constructed the famous Passetto di Borgo to connect the fortress to the Vatican. Over the next few centuries, they used the building for various purposes, including as a palace, prison, library, and treasure room. Criminal trials occurred in the Hall of Justice inside the castle, while executions occurred outside.
The castle was turned into a museum in 1901 and can be visited daily. There are also gorgeous views of the city and the Vatican from the top of the building.
My name is Kristal and I am so happy to have you visit my site!
I hope that the travel guides, fun facts, and photography you find here will inspire you to explore new places!