Castel Sant’Angelo, the ancient fortress and prison, but also Renaissance papal residence, can be considered an exemplary monument of the ancient history of Rome. He arose as Mole Adriana, with funeral function, between 123 and 139 A.D. by the will of the Emperor Publio Elio Traiano Adriano (76-138 A.D.). It was built on the right bank of the Tiber and connected to the city by Elio bridge that comes in its Baroque style, decorated angels sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and his collaborators.
Converted to a military outpost at the time of Emperor Aurelian (A.D. 270-275) that are included in the defensive system of Rome taking advantage of its proximity to the river, the building has undergone over time deep changes aimed at transforming it into a real fortress.
Following the legend of medieval origin that the Archangel Michael appeared to Pope Gregory the Great on the top of the Mole announcing the end of the plague (590 A.D.), he saw change its name in Castellum Sancti Angeli and gradually passed under the control of the Papacy. At certain times of the year you can also visit the secret passage, the so-called Passetto, linking Vatican City and the Castle. It was used by the Popes to flee from plundering of enemies. Since 1925 is the seat of the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo and houses collections of art and history, sculptures, paintings, marble finds, weapons and objects recovered during the excavations.
How to get there:
Castel Sant’ Angelo is located on the banks of the Tiber close to the Vatican.
Bus service 40 (express) from the main railway station.
Metro – Lepanto (Line A)
Opening hours: April-September 9am-7pm
(last admission 1hr before closing time), closed on public holidays.