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Castel Sant'Angelo - Rome's Unyielding Fortress

Castel Sant'Angelo, located on the bank of the river Tiber, is among the most essential and oldest places of Rome. It has survived through 19 centuries acquiring a new role with each new epoch. It started as a sepulcher, then became a papal residence, a fortress, a storage for papal treasures and finally a prison. Today this building is a historical national museum - a big labyrinth with 50 galleries about its super-multilayered historical past and rich history and probably the monument's last transformation.

History Behind Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo was erected in 135 – 139 AD to become a mausoleum for the emperor Adrian, but was used as a burial for other emperors as well. At that time this monument was the highest building in Rome and looked very different from the way we know it today. It was lined with white marble and had a different shape. Later on due to its perfect location on the river Tiber Roman popes used Castel Sant'Angelo as a stronghold protecting the city from the barbaric raids. It was considered impregnable and represented the power of the Holy See until in 410 Castel Sant’Angelo was completely devastated by the Visigoths.

In 590 Rome was swept by plague. There is a legend that describes how Pope Gregory the Great was going through the city with people of Rome, praying and asking God to stop the epidemic. When they reached the bridge, they saw an archangel Michael who was standing on the roof and sheathing his sword over the castle. That symbolized the end of the disease, which soon really stopped.

This fortress became a castle in the 14th century. After a serious reconstruction it started to look the way we know it today. In the best tradition of the Renaissance period luxurious papal rooms were bound to a prison. Jordano Bruno spent in it long six years and brilliant Benvenuto Cellini, a sculptor, musician, poet and writer, managed to be the only one in the history of the castle to escape Castel Sant’Angelo’s prison, which was considered impossible. Don’t miss out many other amazing stories and legends about this place and people related to it.

Castel Sant’Angelo - Today's National Museum 

As you see, the history of Castel Sant’Angelo has too many twists and turns and it would be a good idea to explore it to the fullest with the guides and excursions. The National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo has 50 galleries with many portraits and antique weapons relating to this place and its past. Sometimes the museum has exhibitions that do not belong to the permanent collection, so for your notice, they will be charged separately. 

A piece of good news for tourists would also be that the same old bridge as in the past connects the castle with the center of Rome. This makes it super easy to get to the Vatican City and to the St. Peter’s Square, 6 minutes’ walk and you are there. To get to Campo di Fiori, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain will take you about 10 minutes! All in all, this city’s site is a fantastic place to visit with an option to link it to other sightseeing places!

What is the address of Castel Sant’Angelo? Lungotever Castello, 50, 00193, Rome, Italy

How do I get there? You need to get to metro station Lepanto (Line A)

What is the cost of the ticket? 14 euro (doesn’t include charges for temporary exhibitions)

Working hours: daily from 9am to 7pm. Closed on public holidays.

Official website: www.castelsantangelo.com

Free admission for many categories, including children under 18, teachers and students from EU and the USA.

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