The Sant Angelo of Rome !!

And bringing you back to eternal Rome, and Italy.  We had great weather when visiting with the family and good memories of the Castle museum of Sant Angelo. This is an updated post with new text and links, a wonderful experience worth reliving again. Hope you enjoy it as I. 


Well going to Rome I thought of Roman ruins and narrow streets, great pasta etc. but never figure there was a castle ,even if old as well.  This time been a family vacation wandered all over, and caught this wonderful castle near the Vatican. I am talking about the Castel museo of Sant’Angelo.


The castle grounds were done in 135 and completed in 139, the ashes of emperors Hadrian and Augustus are in its stones, and it was done as a mausoleum to house the ones from Hadrian (emperor born in what is today Spain).  The appearances of an angel had a lot to do with the name of the castle.  It passes by the Aurelian walls right into the Vatican area, with a great moat area now with benches and shade trees, up above by the walls there is a semicircular pathway of beautiful shaded trees and benches with colorful stands selling gelato, and even hot dogs with souvenirs stand with great prices always negotiated down. We purchase t-shirts, scarfs, belts, and caps all starting much higher but always reduce prices at the end!


A bit of condense history I like:

Started construction under orders of emperor Hadrian in 135  to be his mausoleum, the building is the counterpart of the tomb of Augustus. It was completed by Antoninus Pius in 139. The Castle, a massive Rotunda covered with travertine marble, surmounted by a Quadriga bronze figure of the emperor Hadrian . Hadrian’s ashes are deposited in 139. Caracalla was the last emperor to be buried. Very quickly, the building is diverted from its funeral purposes to become military. It is integrated into the Aurelian wall in 403, as the advanced bastion.


The Castle Sant Angelo takes its present name from a legend appeared in the 9C, about the great plague of 590. The Pope then Grégoire Ire, had an apparition of the Archangel Michael at the top of the Castle, handing his sword to the scabbard, thus signifying the end of the epidemic.  In 846, the Saracens made a sudden incursion in the town, looted St. Peter’s Basilica and devastate the Borgo. To protect it, Léon IV connects it by a wall to the Castle.  The castle is then transformed into prison, where four of the popes of the 9C were killed.  During the long struggle between the Pope and the Emperor, the castle became a refuge for Popes. Gregory VII is entrenched in 1083 to resist to Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and in 1227, Nicolas III built a corridor suspended connecting the castle to the Vatican, thus providing a possibility of quick escapes.


When urban V from Avignon returns to Rome, he is giving back not the keys to the city but those of the Castle, which reprises his role of fortress protecting the Vatican. The many renovations allow Alexandre VI  to take refuge when Rome was occupied by the King of France Charles VIII in 1494 (first war of Italy) and Clement VII to resist six months at headquarters of Charles V during the terrible sacking of Rome in 1527. He manages to escape in disguise, by the back door garden Saint-Pierre to reach Orvieto. The castle did not lose its status of a prison.  Until the 19C, the Castle serves as  the papacy political prison, the pontifical flag is brought down for the last time by the Papal troops, under the eyes of the Italian army, which took possession of the castle.


Restored at the beginning of the 20C, the Castel Sant’Angelo is a museum since 1925, where it houses a collection of paintings and armor. Amongst which are :  Apollo room, decorated with frescoes by Perin del Vaga (1547);  the room of Clement VII (paintings from the 15-16C);  the Loggia of Paul III, painted by Antonio da Sangallo the younger. the Loggia of Julius II from 1504;  Paul III Farnèse apartments, decorated between 1542 and 1549  with  frescoes; Salle Pauline decorated of the life of Alexander the great of Marco Pino;  the room of the Adrianeum which houses the Bacchanalia of Dosso Dossi; and the room of garlands, Saint Jerome of Lorenzo Lotto.  Finally, Giacomo Puccini played on the ramparts of the castle the last scenes of Tosca: Cavaradossi, having dreamed happiness past was shot on the terrace by the firing squad and Floria Tosca of despair, flows of the parapet into the Tiber.

The official Castel Museo Sant Angelo

The Rome tourist office on the castle/museum

There you go folks, a must see while in Rome, the Castel Museo Sant Angelo! One of the highlights of our visit and very educational as well. Hope you enjoy it as I.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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