The Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is a cylindrical monument set on the shore of the Tiber River. Construction was initiated by Emperor Hadrian, whose purpose was to build a mausoleum for him and his family, and completed by Emperor Antoninus Pius in 139. Upon its completion, the ashes of Hadrian, who had died the year before, were placed inside, along with those of his wife and his first adopted son. The ashes of succeeding emperors, up to Emperor Caracalla, were also placed inside the mausoleum.
In the third century, when barbaric tribes invaded the Roman Empire through the Limes Germanicus (German Frontier), Emperor Aurelian started the construction of walls that would serve as a defense against these invasions. The walls, which came to be called the Aurelian Walls, were completed within five years. In 401, during Emperor Honorius' reign, the Mausoleum of Hadrian became a military fortress and was incorporated in the Aurelian Walls. By this time, much of the original mausoleum had been destroyed.
In the 14th century, the mausoleum was turned into a castle by the popes. Pope Nicholas III ordered the construction of a covered corridor to connect the castle to St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. This corridor is called the Passetto di Borgo. In 1527, Pope Clement VII used the castle to seek refuge. However, residence and refuge were not the only uses that the popes had for the Castel Sant'Angelo. It also served as a prison where prisoners were tortured and killed, even beheaded. Giordano Bruno, the Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer who was burned at the stake for being a heretic, was imprisoned there for six years.
The name Castel Sant'Angelo was born of a vision Pope Gregory I supposedly had in the 6th century. In his vision, the archangel Michael stood on the top of the monument to annouce the end of the plague of 590. A statue of the archangel, built by the Flemish artist Werschaffelt in the 18th century, stands on the Castel Sant'Angelo's terrace as a tribute and is a beloved landmark on its own.
In modern times, the Castel appeared in the movies: Roman Holiday, The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and in the video game, Assassin's Creed 2. In Puccini's Tosca, the Castel is where Floria sees her lover, Cavaradossi, dead, goes to the rooftop and jumps to her death.
Address Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma, Italy
Opening hours Tuesday - Sunday: 09.00 - 19.30, Monday, 25.12 and 01.01 closed. First Sunday of each month free entrance.
Tickets Full price 10.5€, Reduced price 7.5 € (EU citizens 18 - 25 years old), Free entrance (under 18 years old). Roma Pass Roma Pass can be used.
Public transportation Metro Linea A (Stations Lepanto or Ottaviano-San Pietro), buses