Starting from The Center of Rome, a facility that houses our B&B in the center of Rome, you can easily reach the magnificent Castel Sant’Angelo. The monument, wanted and probably designed by Emperor Hadrian as a tomb for himself and his successors, was perhaps built by the architect Demetriano.
Begun around 123 A.D. and completed a year after the death of Emperor Antoninus Pius, it hosted the burials of the imperial family up to Caracalla, killed in 217 AD.
NOTES OF HISTORY
Originally, the mausoleum consisted of a square base, on which rested a cylindrical construction covered with blocks of tuff and travertine. At the corners of the base stood groups of statues. The pilasters of the circular body were also probably surmounted by statues.
Aureliano, built in 271 AD. the walls defending the city made the imperial mausoleum a fortified outpost, enclosing it with turreted walls. The door that opened in this enclosure was later called Porta San Pietro.
Theodoric was the first to make it a prison, which also maintained the character of a fortress, allowing Totila to control the city in the hands of Belisarius in the Gothic war.
Urban V, considering Castel Sant’Angelo the only guarantee of control of Rome, entrusted it to a French garrison. But it was reoccupied in April 1379 by the Romans in revolt who tried to raze it to the ground.
Boniface VIII and the architect Nicolo ‘Lamberti transformed it into an impregnable cornerstone of the temporal power of the popes, who not infrequently lived there.
The popes lived in the apartment enlarged in the mid 1500s by Paul III. Here they kept their most secret archive and the treasure of the Church. The current configuration of the complex took shape with the restorations begun at the end of the 19th century. In that period, the raising of the river banks and the Tiber River broke the relationship with the watercourse and the bridge.
CASTEL SANT’ANGELO TODAY
Today the mass has a square wall at the bottom, reinforced at the corners by the bastions of San Giovanni on the right and San Matteo on the left. At the opposite vertices, the bastions of San Luca and San Marco. Along the curtain, between the ramparts of San Giovanni and San Luca, the entrance portal of the castle was rebuilt.
The latter, executed in 1556 by Giovanni Sallustio Peruzzi for Paul IV, was moved by Urban VIII in 1628 to the external guardhouse, also demolished (1892) for the opening of the Tiber.
The cylindrical Roman body ends with the beautiful facing in terracotta completed under Alexander VI and marked by corbels, and is surmounted by the square tower.
The latter incorporates the original circular crowning, against which the Renaissance papal apartments open towards the Tiber from the marble loggia of Julius II lean against. Upstairs, the eighteenth-century rooms reserved for the deputy castellan and, on the large terrace, the bronze statue of the archangel Michael sheathing his sword.
Thanks to the location of our B&B in the center of Rome, you can admire it practically every day. From The Center of Rome to the most beautiful places in the Eternal City, in fact, the passage in front of Castel Sant’Angelo is practically obligatory.
From the Lungotevere, once you reach the door facing the bridge, turn right. Along the walls, you reach the door called “del Peruzzi” on the eastern side.
After passing the ticket office, two of the Roman radial cells meet on the left. In them are exhibited a collection of medieval and modern epigraphs and marbles and three didactic models that reproduce the castle at the time of Alexander VI and Urban VII.
Continuing in the ambulatory, created by Boniface IX between the Roman cylinder and the square wall, you return to the entrance door on the Tiber. From here you go down a modern staircase, reaching the grandiose Dromos at the original level of the mausoleum. Here we find barrel vaults that end in a vestibule, concluded by a large niche where Hadrian’s ststua was.
This part of the castle is to be visited with absolute calm and taking all the necessary time. Do you want to come back the following day too? Well, then The Center of Rome is the beb in the center of Rome for you, because it will allow you to always move on foot!
RAMPS AND BRIDGES
On the right begins the helical ramp rediscovered only in the 19th century and freed of the filling that obstructed it from the late Middle Ages. The walls have a masonry system of refined technique. 15.5 meters long, the ramp climbs with a slight slope, completing an entire perimeter circle of the large cylindrical body and overcoming a vertical drop of 12 meters.
After the helical one, take the diametrical ramp on the left, obtained in the entire cylindrical mass when the helical ramp was buried. The purpose of this ramp was to allow access to the central part of the fortress only through a drawbridge.
Going along it, thanks to a bridge built by Giuseppe Valadier in 1822, you cross the hall of the cinerary urns. According to tradition, the remains of Emperor Hadrian were placed here. Afterwards, you reach the landing.
Going along another section of the ramp you reach the Courtyard of Honor, also known as the Angel due to the presence of the marble statue of the archangel Michael sheathing the sword.
If the first tour of Castel Sant’Angelo is not enough to be able to admire all the ramps and bridges of the monument, rest in our B&B bed in the center of Rome. After recharging the batteries in our efficient and handy structure, you will return to Hadrian’s mausoleum to complete the tour!
SALA DI APOLLO, COURTYARD OF THE WELL AND HISTORICAL PRISONS
On the left side of the courtyard opens the so-called “Apollo’s” room, decorated since 1547 by Perin del Vaga, who died shortly after the start of the works. Next, you can visit the Hall of Justice, so named for the fresco depicting the Angel of Justice attributed to Domenico Rietti known as the “Zaga”.
Through a corridor you exit to the right in the courtyard of the Well, so named for the beautiful marble puteale by Alexander VI. On one side, the courtyard is bordered by a two-storey semicircular building, with the remains of frescoed mythological figures dating back to the second half of the 16th century.
From the courtyard of the well, a door leads to the so-called historical prisons. A ramp descends into an underground room, at the end of which, in addition to a vestibule, a corridor leading to the gloomy cells begins on the left.
Walking through the semicircular gallery or “Giretto di Pio IV”, you will notice the small rooms, used first as homes for the family members of the papal court and then as military prisons.
PAULINE ROOM AND LIBRARY ROOM
We then arrive at the Paolina room, which was the large representative hall, whose decorative project is due to Perin del Vaga. In the paneled vault you can admire the six stories of Alexander the Great by Marco Pino.
At the four corners, the Farnese exploits of the lily of justice and the dolphin with the salamander. In the center, the coat of arms of Paul III, between two panels bearing an inscription in Greek and stucco bas-reliefs with marine creatures and the triumph of Galatea.
FROM OUR B&B IN THE CENTER OF ROME TO CASTEL SANT’ANGELO IS A MOMENT
It takes very little! The location of our B&B in the center of Rome, “The Center of Rome”, located in via Cola di Rienzo n. 2012, allows you to reach the monument on foot.