Tomb of the Emperor Hadrian and Roman landmark
Today's Castel Sant'Angelo was originally built by the Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his successors. It was completed in 193 under the Emperor Septimius Severus, who was buried here along with his predecessors to Hadrian. The square mausoleum originally had a side length of 84 metres and a height of 20 metres. On the roof there was a quadriga with Hadrian as a sun god. The ramp inside the mausoleum has been preserved to this day and is walkable during a visit. With the construction of the Aurelian Wall by the Emperor Aurelian, the mausoleum was included in the city's fortifications and became the strongest fortress in Rome in subsequent years.
The Castel Sant'Angelo under the popes
In 590, Pope Gregory the Great had a vision. The Archangel Michael was hovering over the mausoleum, thrust his sword into the sheath and announced the end of the plague. Since then, an angel figure has been perched on the top of the castle and the mausoleum was given its present name Castel Sant'Angelo (Sant'Angelo). The current bronze figure was created by Piet van Verschaffelt in 1752. In 1277, Pope Nicholas III connected the Castel Sant'Angelo with the Vatican through a "Passetto", a defence and escape corridor. The Borgia Pope Alexander VI expanded the parapet way and extended the Castel Sant'Angelo by its four corner bastions. Whenever danger threatened the Eternal City, the Popes fled into the heavily fortified Castel Sant'Angelo, where they were safe. Until 1901, the Castel Sant'Angelo ultimately served as a prison for criminals and undesirable cardinals and temporarily as the papal treasury and secret archives.
A visit of the Castel Sant'Angelo and the Ponte Sant'Angelo
You enter the Castel Sant'Angelo from the Tiber side. In addition to the bastions a walk on the ramp of the former mausoleum is worth doing. Inside the castle you will find a museum, the Pope chambers with some beautiful murals and exhibitions on different topics.
The Ponte Sant'Angelo, is regarded as the finest ancient bridge in Rome. It was originally built by the Emperor Hadrian for access to his mausoleum. The three central arches are also from this time. The access to the bridge is guarded by the mighty statues of the Apostles Peter and Paul. The ten angel statues along the bridge are from the then only 17 years old Bernini, who designed them. He even created the one with the cross title and the crown of thorns.