Discover the Mausoleum of Hadrian "Castel Sant'Angelo"
Translating into English as the Castle of the Holy Angel, this beautiful building was first constructed in 125 AD and was intended as a mausoleum for the Emperor at the time, Hadrian. Popes would use the mausoleum as a hiding place in later years when there was trouble in the region, and it is now a national museum.
Castel Sant'Angelo sits on the Tiber River, and as you will discover on a private tour, while it was used as a mausoleum over the years, eventually it was ingrained into the city walls and then later, into a safe residence for the pope. Interestingly, the castle was used as a military prison before its transformation into a museum.
The Mausoleum built for Hadrian
As mentioned above, it was constructed initially for Emperor Hadrian with the purpose of being a mausoleum, and when their time had passed, his remains along with several successors were placed inside. As you will learn on a private tour of Castel Sant'Angelo, even though building commenced in 123 AD, it was not finished until sixteen years later at which point Hadrian was no longer the emperor.
A statue of Hadrian driving a quadriga was placed on top of the building, while inside you will find a rather large 90-meter long base and a circular drum. On the far side of the river, you will learn that the mausoleum was connected to Rome, and many intricate statues line the new bridge which crosses it, the Pons Aelius.
Papal in hiding
During the earliest times in Rome, when the Aurelian Wall was being built, the mausoleum was well protected due to the fact that it was part of the wall surrounding Rome. For this reason, the mausoleum was renamed the Castel Sant'Angelo and the Romans further fortified the building which would later be used by the popes whenever danger loomed on the horizon.
One of the most fascinating parts of the building is the secret corridor which runs from the castle all the way to the Vatican. Passetto di Borgo, as it is known was famously used by pope Clement VII when the army of Charles de Bourbon's sacked the city of Rome in the sixteenth century.
Inside the Castle and the Angel statue
Security may have been most important for the papal residence, but it was still anything but simple and beautiful art can be found adorning the interior walls of Castel Sant'Angelo which has multiple floors, a prison, and an enchanting corridor which spirals downward into the old mausoleum. A private tour of the castle is an eye-opening experience, for it truly is incredible to see the level of detail which was used to ensure the safety and comfort of the castle.
Another highlight of a visit to Castel Sant'Angelo is the bronze angel statue at the top of the building. Overlooking the terraces below, the statue was created by Pieter Verschaffelt and symbolizes the archangel Michael who appeared at the castle in 590AD at which point he brought an end to the plague which was devastating Rome. It was following this event that the building was renamed, and the story certainly heightens the spiritual atmosphere which can always be felt here on a private tour.