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The mysteries of Castel Sant’Angelo
17 March 2015

The mysteries of Castel Sant’Angelo

by Annalisa G+

Castel Sant'Angelo is one of the most beautiful of Rome, the structure that best lends itself to beautiful photos, lonely and full of charm, but it was for Rome?

The structure was established as a mausoleum of Hadrian, a monument dedicated to him in the 125. Built on a cylindrical base the monument is made of tufa and travertine, and marble pilasters and statues are the materials of the details that over the centuries have embellished.

The top, covered in travertine, is decorated with marble statues, today there were only a few remnants, but initially they surrounded a chariot driven by the emperor Hadrian represented, ideally, like a sun. Around the Mausoleum was built a wall with a gate of bronze with two peacocks that are now preserved in the Vatican.

The Interior

Once in Castel Sant'Angelo is possible, access to its original level, which is 3 meters lower than today, thanks to a small and steep ladder built in the eighteenth century. Inside were omitted some plastic inside and reproduce the original construction of the tomb and the transformations undergone over time, while in the heart of the building you can find the ashes imperial.

The Terrace

It is called the Terrace of Castel Sant'Angelo thanks to the statue of the Bronze that guards from the entire structure. On the left side of the statue there is the bell of the condemned, his sound heralded the time of the executions to death. The terrace of Castel Sant'Angelo served as a backdrop to one of the most important works of Puccini, the protagonist of Tosca, in fact, is precisely the death by jumping from this terrace.

The Bridge

The bridge leading inside the Mausoleum was restored only in 1669 and studded, by Bernini, with statues depicting angels symbol of the Passion. This bridge door behind her tragic stories, initially used to expose to the public the heads of those sentenced to death, was for many years left to itself, and the lack of maintenance has led to a tragic event during the Jubilee of 1450.
On this occasion there were many dead who fell from the bridge due to a runaway mule who sowed panic in the crowd, and only after this unfortunate episode, the bridge was renovated and were built the porch and towers.

The Name

The Mausoleum of Hadrian becomes Castel Sant'Angelo only 590 when, to avoid the danger of the plague that had gripped Rome at that time, was organized a procession in which Pope Gregory I appeared the archangel Michael who put his sword in holster to herald the end of the plague, who liberated Rome shortly thereafter. Since then, the mausoleum was called by the Romans Castel Sant'Angelo and in memory of this episode was the statue of the Archangel at the top of the structure. Within what is now a museum you can see a stone with the fingerprint, the same left by the angel during his appearance.

What hides inside

After its construction the Mausoleum of Hadrian is used for multiple purposes: Aureliano used it as an outpost, then became a fortress and later the symbol of papal power. In this period that were included in the museum of the apartments and was built the famous "passetto": an underground passage leading directly to the Vatican, offering popes a secret escape route.


In the Middle Ages the building was used as a prison and courtyards were used for beheadings and other executions: With the birth of Italy Castel Sant'Angelo turned into barracks to become today a national museum that bears witness to its long tradition.

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