Built as a Mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family between 123 - 139 AD, Castel Sant'angelo is a beautiful cylindrical structure, which was once the tallest building in Rome, Italy. It was converted into a fortress in 590 AD by Pope Gregory the Great. Today, it functions as a museum for paintings, military memorabilia, Roman sculptures, and medieval firearms. Most of these firearms were used to protect a secret passageway from Castel Sant Angelo to Vatican City.
A little history about Castel Sant Angelo
Castel Sant Angelo is five-storey building that also has secret rooms below the ground. A year after Emperor Hadrian’s death in Baiae in 138, his ashes were kept in the monument. His wife, Sabina, and their first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who died in 138 as well, also have their ashes stored along with the emperor. Ashes of succeeding emperors are also stored in the same place. Emperor Caracalla was the last emperor in 217 on the list. All their urns are kept in a Secret Treasure Room in the building.
Destroyed during war
Originally, the Roman monument had a decorative bronze and stone statuary and an elevated garden. It was once the tallest building in Rome. However, after turning it into a fortress, much of its structure was lost during wars. Ashes of the emperors and their families were scattered all around by Visigoth looters in 410 AD. Surprisingly, only Emperor Hadrian’s urn remained and now is kept in St Peter’s Basilica.
Turned into a castle
In the 14th century, Pope Nicholas III converted Castel Sant'angelo into a castle and connected it to St Peter’s Basilica with Passetto Di Borgo, a covered passage. The Roman mausoleum was also once used as a prison where Giordano Bruno was imprisoned for six years.
Castle’s identity today
Even after going through several tragedies, the castle still stands tall in all its glory. It became a museum in 1901 and is visited by millions of people every year. There’s a spiral ramp that leads you through the floors. The first floor contains rooms where urns and ashes are kept and rooms where the emperors and their families were incarcerated. On the upper floors of the museum, you will get to see beautiful paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance period, a collection of firearms and weapons, and episodes from Alexander the Great’s life. After enjoying all the art, the museum opens to a huge balcony where you can take great photographs.
Places to visit nearby
Located nearby are many monuments that are of great significance to Rome. Most of them were built during the same time and are worth taking a look at. The beautiful architecture is too beautiful to be true. Some of the places to visit near Castel Sant'angelo are the Pantheon, Fiume Tevere, Baldacchino Di San Pietro, di Bernini, and Piazza Cavour.