Castel Sant Angelo is one of the most impressive buildings in all of Rome. The cylindrical shape of this monument is a distinguishing characteristic that sets it apart from many of the other major buildings of interest in the city of Rome. It also happens to be among the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The Mausoleum of Hadrian, which ultimately came to be known as Castel Sant Angelo, was commissioned by the Emperor Hadrian in the year 135 AD to serve as a resting place for he and his family. Hadrian was the fourteenth Emperor of Rome and is considered to be one of the Five Good Roman Emperors. The building of the castle in Rome Italy that would house the remains of this legendary leader spared little expense. Castel Sant Angelo history reveals that it took from 135 to 139 AD to finish construction of the initial building, which was much less elaborate than it would ultimately become over the centuries.
The Castel Sant Angelo is situated on the right bank of the Tiber River. It can be approached from the city center of Rome using the Pons Aelius, also known as the Bridge of Hadrian. It was constructed in 134 AD to connect the Roman center with the mausoleum. It is now adorned with magnificent angel sculptures by Bernini and two especially impressive statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. As you walk along the Pons Aelius toward the mausoleum, you will get a sense of the long and deep Castel Sant Angelo history. There have many additions made to the bridge, including wonderful statuary of angels and depictions from the Passion of Christ as you approach the famed castle in Rome Italy. Also, many Caesars were enshrined here, the last of whom was Caracalla in 217.
Castel Sant Angelo history dates back millennia, but it did not take on this exact name until the sixth century. Legend has it that as St. Gregory the Great was leading a procession of believers through the streets of Rome to beg for the Virgin Mary to bring an end to the devastating plague of 590 C.E., the Archangel Michael was seen atop the building placing his sword back in his sheath, signifying the end of the plague. Thus the name and the golden statue in honor of the Archangel Michael lofted high atop the Castel Sant Angelo to this day.
Over the centuries, the Castel San Angelo has served not only as Hadrian’s Tomb, but also as a fortress, military outpost, prison, papal fortress, and more. Popes began to convert the building into a castle in the fourteenth century. Pope Nicholas III is known for connecting the mausoleum with St Peter's Basilica using a fortified corridor that provided defenses and a getaway route.
If you are planning to travel to Rome, a visit to this impressive building is easy to couple with a trip to the Vatican or St Peter's Basilica as they are near each other. The bridge, the palace, and the tunnel are all emblematic of the once-glorious Holy Roman Empire and its dominance over the region and much of the civilized world at the time. It is certainly worth the modest fee and visit to see this attraction. The palace is now home to the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo.