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The Castel Sant’Angelo as we know it, has undergone several renovations over the past centuries. The alterations were mainly to strengthen the castle’s defenses. Built between 135 – 139 AD, the castle was originally a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian. The same cylindrical shape can also be seen in the Mausoleum of Augustus. To connect the monument to the other side, a bridge was built. This bridge was then called as the Pons Aelius. Later on, we all knew this bridge as the Ponte Sant’Angelo.
Emperor Hadrian had the outer walls clad with marble and ordered to make a bronze statue of himself. This is very similar to what Augustus did. Emperor Hadrian’s statue stood tall on the original entrance of the mausoleum.
Not only Emperor Hadrian was laid down in that mausoleum. The burial urns of his wide Sabine and other emperors who ruled after him was also laid to rest in that mausoleum. The last that rested in the mausoleum was Roman Emperor Caracalla in 217 AD.
Once you go to the Castel Sant’Angelo, the first thing you will see is the Bridge of Angels. On this bridge are the statues of Peter, Paul and ten other angels that were created by Bernini and his pupils
In 280 AD, the wall was built surrounding the mausoleum and it was called the Aurelain wall. From this, the mausoleum began to shape more like a fortress.
Legend has it that the name Castel Sant’ Angelo or Angel’s Castle (in English), was named after Archangel Michael appeared. There was a plague that attacked Rome and Pope Gregory begged God to put an end to that nightmare. It was said that Archangel Michael actually came and ended the plague. From then, Pope Pius II built a chapel on the very place Archangel Michael was said to have appeared. On top of the castle stand a bronze statue of the savior angel.
The location of Castel Sant’Angelo was very convenient and strategic for the Vatican City. Castel Sant’Angelo was a safer haven, a shelter. Eventually, the Castel Sant’Angelo was acquired as part of its properties by the Vatican City.
In 1722, Pope Nicholas II built the Pasetto. It was a passageway between the Apostolic Palace and the Castel Sant’ Angelo. This passage led to safety when there was a threat of danger. In 1870, the Castel Sant’Angelo fell into the hands of the Italian Army. Since then, the castle was opened to the public and became a museum. The museum houses now various artifacts that tell the history of Rome, for everyone to see and enjoy.
What is Castel Sant'Angelo?
Castel Sant'Angelo was the Mausoleum of the emperor Hadrian and his family. Later the Engelburcht was used as a defensive castle. Today it is a museum
Where is Castel Sant'Angelo?
Castel Sant'Angelo is located close to St. Peter's Basilica along the Tiber River
What is the legend of Castel Sant'Angelo?
According to legend, during the plague, the Archangel Michael appeared to the Pope. The Pope begged the angel to put an end to the terrible disease. Archangel Michael answered his prayers. There is now a statue on the spot where Michael appeared.
Who built the Castel Sant'Angelo?
Castel Sant'Angelo was built as a Mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian 135 AD
Does Castel Sant'Angelo belong to Vatican City?
Yes, Castel Sant'Angelo is part of Vatican City
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