Exploring the Castle of he Holy Angel (Castel Sant’Angelo) in Rome

This is one of my most favourite bridges in the WHOLE world now. I’m not a religious person but when Mr John and I found this angel lined bridge doused in orange light under the Roman sky, it was pretty impressive. BUT, even MORE impressive is the castle at the end of the rainbow bridge.

What is the Castel Sant’Angelo?

The Castel Sant’Angelo was built from 123 – 139. Yes, that makes it over 1800 years old! It was commissioned by Hadrian, who was actually meant to be a really nice Roman emperor. He also built the wall in the north of England, Hadrian’s wall (which is what “THE wall” in Game of Thrones is based on). The Castel Sant’Angelo went on to become a fort for popes, emperors and is now a museum.

After walking over the bridge on all 3 nights we were in Rome, Mr John and I decided to explore the insides before visiting the Sistine Chapel. It was another exquisite day in the Italian capital when we crossed the bridge. This doesn’t look very impressive, but look under the archway on the far right. You see that black dot? That’s a man crouching down. That’ll give you a better idea of scale. Above the archway you can see the angels and, of course, the tower of the Vatican sticking out on the far right.

  

8 Things To See in Castel Sant’Angelo

There are in fact 7 levels of the Castel Sant’Angelo. It’s actually a really complex building and I’m realising how much I missed, unfortunately. We were on the way to the Vatican when we popped in, so time was short. But I still managed to see a TON of things! Here’s my list of interesting attractions:

1. You’re in an Ancient Fort

Before you get inside the actually buildings, you first step through a big front door to find bricked walls and curvy tunnels. You can see the curves of the main tower from the bottom, beautifully preserved. Inside the castle are a number of treasures, including incredible wall paintings, engravings, trucks and ceiling paintings. Throughout the year they host a number of exhibitions as well. These are some of the treasures we found:

  

2. Helical Ramp and Disappearing Holes

The Castel Sant’Angelo is filled with cool, light-less tunnels and mysterious “drop offs” that are now gated off. Think of small “moon holes” like in Game of Thrones where you can just drop something down a hole and who knows where it goes! The Helical ramp is a spiral ramp that curves around the castle for about 12 meters.

 

 

3. Courtyard of the Angel

Not actually knowing where we were on the day, we found a sunny terrace with large angel inside. The courtyard of the angel grants access to the papal palaces higher up in the castle.

4. Library Room

These were the first lot of amazing ceiling paintings we saw on the day. Divided by a centre vault, there are portraits of Archangel Michel and Emperor Adriano. This rooms is right next to the most protected part of the castle, the Pontifical Secret Archive.

  

5. The Turn of Alexandre VII

What I thought was just a pleasant walk way is actually known at the Turn of Alessandro VII. It’s a curvy corridor accessible from the Courtyard of the Angel. It was built MUCH later, in 1657. It is now a restaurant with spectacular views towards the Vatican City.

   

6. Pauline Hall

This is the exhibition call of Paul III Farnese (1534 – 1549) who was the pope at the time. Right in the middle is the coat of arms of Paul III, which is surrounded by 6 frescoes depicting the life of Alexander the Great. The ancient Latin script celebrates the restoration of the hall.

7. Treasury Room

THIS was a fascinating room because we couldn’t imagine the places the trucks had traveled and who they had belonged to! The Hall of Treasury is regarded as the true burial cell of Emperor Hadrian according to some scholars. After it was a treasury room, it was also a cell for a while.

8. Angel’s Terrace – Level 7 (the roof!)

One of the best things about Castle Sant’Angelo are the INCREDIBLE views from the top! Once you reach the roof, the bronze statue of Archangel Michael greets you with this sword drawn. This was actually made in 1753 and is considerably young compared to the rest of the castle. But the views across Rome are unbelievable!

All across Rome, from the Vatican, the hills and across the city, THIS is where you need to come from the best views in Rome. WOW! The river Tiber is pretty green, but it’s still spectacular and it must be hectic to see this river in flood!

      

Visit Castel Sant’Angelo

The Castel Sant’Angelo is a very interesting building and is really inexpensive to get in. In fact, the last Sundays’ of the month I believe is free to visitors! It’s on the way to the Vatican so it’s easy to get to and easy to explore. Spend a morning there if you have some spare time and ENJOY the wonders of this historical fort. Next time, I’m checking out the weaponry!

 

 

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