Interesting Facts About Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo is an ancient fortress located in Rome, Italy, which has a rich history and numerous fascinating facts associated with it. The structure, originally built as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD, has served various purposes over the years, including as a military fortress, a papal residence, a prison, and a museum. In this article, we will delve into some interesting facts about Castel Sant'Angelo that will provide readers with a glimpse into the significance of this architectural marvel. One of the most fascinating facts about Castel Sant'Angelo is that it was initially designed as a tomb for Emperor Hadrian and his family. The structure was later transformed into a fortress in the 6th century AD by the Gothic king Totila, who built the first defensive walls around it. The castle was then used by several other ruling factions over the years, including the Byzantines, the Papal States, and the Italian government.


Another fascinating aspect of Castel Sant'Angelo is its connection to the Vatican through a hidden passageway called the Passetto di Borgo, constructed in 1277 under the reign of Pope Nicholas III. This secretive passage served as a secure escape route for Popes in times of peril, famously used by Pope Clement VII during the tumultuous Sack of Rome in 1527. Moreover, the fortress houses an impressive collection of historical artifacts and artwork, including ancient weaponry, armor, and paintings. Exploring the castle's diverse rooms and halls, such as the former papal apartments, prison cells, and the rooftop terrace offering awe-inspiring city views, unveils a captivating journey through centuries of history and culture.

Historical Background
Historical Background

One of the interesting facts about Castel Sant'Angelo is that Castel Sant'Angelo was built in the year 139 AD as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family. It was designed to be a grand tomb that would serve as a final resting place for the emperor and his loved ones. The structure was later converted into a fortress by the popes, and it played a key role in the defense of Rome during times of war.


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The Name
The Name

The name Castel Sant'Angelo means "Castle of the Holy Angel" in English. The name is derived from a legend that says that the Archangel Michael appeared on top of the castle in 590 AD, signalling the end of a plague that had ravaged the city.


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Architecture and Design
Architecture and Design

Castel Sant'Angelo architecture is an impressive example of Roman architecture and engineering. The structure is made up of several cylindrical blocks of travertine stone, and it features a spiral ramp that leads up to the top of the castle. The design of the castle has inspired many other structures throughout history, including the famous Spiral Staircase at the Vatican.


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Military Significance
Military Significance

Throughout history, Castel Sant'Angelo has played a key role in the defense of Rome. One of the interesting facts about Castel Sant'Angelo is that the castle was used as a fortress during times of war, and it was equipped with numerous defensive features, including thick walls, a moat, and a drawbridge.

The Popes
The Popes

The popes were instrumental in the transformation of Castel Sant'Angelo into a fortress. Beginning in the 14th century, the castle was used as a residence for the popes, and it was connected to the Vatican by a secret passageway. During this time, the castle was also used as a prison for political dissidents and other enemies of the church.

The Prison Cells
The Prison Cells

There are many interesting facts about Castel Sant'Angelo and its dark history as a prison. The castle's underground cells were notorious for their harsh conditions and brutal treatment of prisoners. Among the most famous prisoners held at the castle were the philosopher Giordano Bruno and the artist Benvenuto Cellini


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The Museum
The Museum

Today, Castel Sant'Angelo is home to a museum that showcases the castle's rich history and cultural significance. Visitors can explore the castle's ramparts and enjoy breathtaking views of the city from the top of the castle. The museum's collection includes ancient artifacts, works of art, and historic weapons and armor.


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The Passetto di Borgo
The Passetto di Borgo

The Passetto di Borgo is a secret passageway that connects Castel Sant'Angelo to the Vatican. The passageway was built in the 13th century and was used by the popes as a means of escape during times of danger. Today, visitors can explore the passageway as part of a guided tour of the castle.


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The Iconic Angel Statue
The Iconic Angel Statue

Perhaps the most recognizable feature of Castel Sant'Angelo is the iconic statue of the Archangel Michael that sits atop the castle. The statue was added to the castle in the 18th century and serves as a symbol of the castle's historical and cultural significance.


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Rome: Castel Sant’Angelo Fast Track Admission Tickets
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Highlights
  • Marvel at centuries of ancient history within the castle walls at the museum

  • Explore 5 floors of the magnificent Castel Sant'Angelo Museum by booking your skip-the-line ticket

  • Enjoy stunning views from the city, river, and sunset from the terrace of the castle

  • Learn about the museum's past and how it served as a fortification against Barbarian attacks on the city

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Must Know Before You Go
  • You will have to climb a series of stairs to reach the panoramic terrace.
  • Participants are not allowed to carry any sharp object, lighter, luggage bag, alcohol, knife, etc.
  • All foreign nationals must share their passport and visa details at the time of arrival.
  • ID proof is mandatory for each individual guest at the time of arrival.
  • Age policies change according to the package. Please go through the policies in the package before booking.
  • Please note that the time slots may be subject to slight variations, and we will allocate a time slot available within a 30-minute window before or after your initial selection.
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FAQs

What is Castel Sant'Angelo and where is it located?

    Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is a fortress located on the right bank of the Tiber River in Rome, Italy. It was built in the 2nd century AD as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family.

    Read More: Castel Sant'Angelo Statues

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