Castel Sant Angelo, Rome

Castel Sant Angelo, Rome

Of all the ancient structures found in Rome, the Casel Sant Angelo may have one of the darkest and most interesting histories. This great castle, which stands on the banks of the Tiber River, was used as a dungeon and citadel. Its floors have been stained by the blood of thousands; its rooms have echoed with screams and the whispered conspiracies of traitors and hitmen.

Castel Sant Angelo in Rome

Ironically, the Casel Sant Angelo had quiet, serene beginnings. It was first built to be the final resting place of the great Emperor Hadrian, and was then used as the imperial mausoleum of Rome’s royalty until the era of Caracalla.

However, by the Middle Ages, the Casel Sant Angelo been coverted into a fortress. Its walls were strengthened to withstand the many attacks during this period. Beneath it lay a maze of underground tunnels connecting it to the Vatican. This was used as an escape route by popes whenever the city was under siege.

Castel Sant Angelo

The Casel Sant Angelo eventually became the home of the popes, including Boniface IX, Nicholas V, and Julius II (best known as an avid patron of the arts, who commissioned many works of masters ike Michelangelo and Raphael). However, the Casa Sant Angelo’s most infamous papal resident was Pope Alexander VI, who was not only head of the church, but a secret family. He and his mistress had two children, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, who unfortunately were more interested in debauchery than the values of the Catholic Church.

Any visit to the Casel Sant Angelo must include looking at its beautiful Renaissance apartments. With the coffered ceilings and opulent décor, the apartment are the picture of luxury—and the scene of many intrigue. Many times people would gather in these rooms to scheme, plot, and spread intrigue. One of its most famous victims was Benvenuto Cellini, known for his skills at sculpture and goldsmithing, as well as his controversial Autobiography.

Castel Sant Angelo near San Pietro

The Casel Sant Angelo is now a museum, with exhibits of ancient armor and weaponry. It has an excellent audio guide that provides a context to the displays and narrates its interesting history.

At the end of the tour of Casel Sant Angelo is a top terrace. Here, guests can enjoy a breathtaking view of Rome.

Castel Sant Angelo, Rome