On a recent trip to Rome I was a bit unlucky with the weather. It was raining quite heavily so I took the opportunity to go inside the Castel Sant’Angelo. I have walked past it many times and have always been curious. The rainy day did me a favour.
What is now The National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo was originally the tomb of emperor Hadrian.
Trajan’s adopted son, Hadrian was emperor of Rome between 117 and 38 AD. A noble and highly cultured figure who was strong and austere, he was a brilliant soldier and an astute politician. He had a predilection for art, music, philosophy and literature and is remembered as one of the best of the Roman Empire.
For himself and his family he built a massive sepulchre just outside the heart of the city, the Ager Vaticanus. The mausoleum was to tower over the others beside it and be linked to the centre of Rome by the richly ornamented Pons Aelius, constructed by the same emperor.
The bridge is still standing and is now called Ponte Sant’Angelo. The three central arches remain from the Roman era. The 10 statues now in place were added much later, in 1668. Two were created by Bernini and considered to precious to remain outside and were moved to the church of Sant’Andrea Delle Fratte. Replicas were made by Bernini’s students.
For a €9 entry fee you can enter the museum and wander freely through this incredible building…come for a walk.
There are huge sculptures from ancient times.
It is possible to get up close and personal with the detail of the construction…it was built to last.
The pathways give a wonderful perspective of the layout. The original structure was on three levels, the outer quadrangular base, the massive cylindrical core covered with green vegetation from the centre of which rose another smaller cylinder. This was surmounted by a quadrilateral, a four horse chariot bearing the emperor. It must have looked spectacular…it still does.
The statue of Michael the Archangel displayed in the courtyard is by Raffaello da Montelupo. It is 3.3 metres tall and its copper wings have perforations to reduce wind resistance.
There is a very cute cafe.
There are amazing views from various vantage points.
I find it incredible that we can walk in the footsteps of Roman emperors…don’t you?