Rome – Castel Sant’ Angelo

Hi friends, welcome back to my Italy series! After spending the morning taking pictures and trekking to Bonci Pizza, Jon and I headed to Castel Sant’ Angelo on the banks of the Tiber River. This structure was built as a tomb for Emperor Hadrian in AD 139 because at the time, tombs weren’t allowed in Ancient Rome. The bridge in front was also commissioned by Emperor Hadrian so he could easily cross the river and visit the site. The emperor’s ashes were buried here along with his family members and a few subsequent Emperors.

There is a legend that the archangel Michael appeared above the building holding his sword to signal the end of the plague in AD 590. After that, the mausoleum was turned into a palace renamed for the angel. During the Dark Ages it was used as a fortress and prison.

In 1277 the pope requested an approximately half-mile corridor be built to connect Castel Sant’ Angelo to the Vatican in case of any invasions. The corridor is officially named the Passetto di Borgo, and you can see it starting in the bottom right where it looks like a wall. In 1527 Pope Clement VII used the passage to escape the troops of Emperor Charles V.

On top of Castel Sant’ Angelo is the archangel, Michael.

Inside there are a few exhibits, some artwork, and papal apartments to see.

We loved the views of Rome and the Vatican the most.

If you’re short on time I’d recommend at least walking by Castel Sant’ Angelo, but if you have time it’s worth checking out this sight for the sweeping views of Rome.

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26 thoughts on “Rome – Castel Sant’ Angelo

  1. On our tour, we only saw the outside, so thanks for showing us what we missed. An interesting thing, when you are forward thinking and rich enough to take care of your own burial place. Thanks for sharing Lyssy. Allan

    1. That is very true, would be nice to have the resources of the Roman Empire! Hopefully one day you’ll make it back to Rome and go inside.

  2. No excuses – I had an entire college year in Rome and never set foot in Castel Sant’ Angelo. We walked by it regularly on the way to the Vatican and we even studied it on paper, but this is the first time I’m seeing the interiors (other than either “The Da Vinci Code” or “Angels and Demons” – forget which 🙂 Also, the beautiful barrel-vaulted room threw me for a second. I thought you’d changed channels and suddenly appeared in the Sistine Chapel!

    1. I think it was “Angels and Demons” from some of my research. I read both those books so long ago, but don’t remember anything. The Catholic Church must’ve been doing real well to decorate their hideaway almost as elegantly as the Sistine Chapel. It’s definitely an interesting place to tour.

    1. Thank you! I was very intrigued by the name Castel when I was planning my trip, I’m glad we had some extra time to wander around it and see all the great views.

  3. Such an interesting place. Thanks for the tour and history lesson. I’ll always remember Castel Sant’ Angelo and the Passetto di Borgo for their prominent roles in Dan Brown’s novel and movie Angels and Demons.

    1. It is very interesting indeed! I’ve read Angels and Demons, but I don’t think I ever saw the movie. I should give it a go now that I’ll recognize the scenery.

  4. I’ve only ever passed by Castel Sant’ Angelo, but I’ve been curious to check out the inside…and based on your photos, it certainly doesn’t disappoint! The papal apartments are STUNNING, just as opulent as what you would see inside the Vatican, and to get views of the Vatican not too far away is just as wonderful. Glad you had the opportunity to explore the Castel Sant’ Angelo!

    1. It’s such an interesting sight in Rome. The. papal apartments are stunning, it’s amazing how luxurious their hideaway was. The views were so beautiful too!

    1. Thank you! It’s amazing how luxurious they were, must be nice to have an unlimited remodel budget ha!

  5. We didn’t have enough time to check out the Castel Sant’Angelo when we were in Rome, so it’s nice to see what it looks like from the inside and learn more about its history. The views of Rome and the Vatican are stunning.

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