Let me tell you about a curious place, away from…
Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, in the historical centre of the city and by the Tiber river, represented a bastion against the enemy attacks in the past time.
Rockford of defence and prison, during the course of the history of Rome, the castle never has gone destroyed despite numerous wars and attacks. This is the reason why Saint Angel Castle is considered the very heart of the history of Rome.
In fact it passes to be from funerary monument to fortified outpost, from jail to Risorgimento’s dwelling before being eventually turned into a museum.
Built up around the 123 d.c as sepulchre for Adrian emperor and its family, Castel Sant’ Angelo has been a sepulchre until the 403 d.c approximately, when by appointment of the Onofrio Pope it became a castle. In 1367 after the Avignon’s exile Pope Urban V returned to live into the castle.
And from this time onwards the Castle was made into the papal residence and fortress in order to protect the popes from the outside dangers. Then was built The famous “Passetto del Borgo” , a tunnel (The Short step) that connects the Vatican’s walls with Castel Sant’Angelo . Using Passetto del Borgo, popes Alessandro VI and Clemente VII saved their own lives .
Underground the Courtyard of the Crossbow (said also Courtyard of the Sink) is occupied from a sequel of spaces, also known as the "secret" of Castel Sant’ Angel. Later on Castel Sant’Angelo was as well a famous prison. Starting from XVII century all people who where against the Papal authority lived inside the castle and behind bars.
One of the more famous prisoners of the castle remains the painter Benvenuto Cellini who lived in the prison for a year and then managed his escape by using a rope.
The same Benvenuto Cellini claims that, during his imprisonment, he drew a God Father and a Revived Christ of which traces can be still recognized on the wall of the cell.
The castle took its actual name during the papacy of Gregorio Magnus : During a serious pest epidemic that had hit Rome, on the top of the fortress an angel had appeared , replacing the sword in the sheath. The Pope interpreted the apparition as it marks them of good augury and decided to name the castle Sant’Angelo.
Nowadays Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome is one of the major tourist attractions, especially during the summer time.
Starting from the 18th of June and throughout summer in fact every night in the bastions and the courtyards of the castle, there are shows including acting and dancing, lasting about half an hour.
At the same time it’s possible to admire the beautiful sculptures situated in several points of the castle and the old and precious
Paintings such as the Madonna in throne with the child and the Saints.
Inside the castle there is as well an interesting collection of armies from the papal army and the Italian army.
The Sant’Angelo castle in divided into 6 levels.
The first one is opened by a courtyard called of “Salvatore” (the Saver) which is named after the marble bust originally inserted in the arc of the inner facade. This courtyard its followed by another one called of the execution : Those who had been condemned prayed to recommend their spirit to God.
Moreover through a large arch you will get closer to the original mausoleum of Adrian emperor.
Through a long helicoidally scale , first a scale then a diametrical ramp, it is approached to the second level with the “sala delle urne”.
Finally there is the prison that has seen famous people like Benvenuto Cellini, Beatrice Cenci and the Balsamo Conte di Cagliostro. Beyond the prisons you will find the silos where they used to store food supplies.
The third level gives way to the courtyard of the angel where the statue of the archangel Gabriel is erected. From this courtyard you will get to the rooms of Clemente VIII, the room of the Justice, and the room of Apollo, the small church of the SS. Cosma and Damiano, Clement VII room, the
Courtyard of Alexander VI, the Cortiletto of Leone X and the bath of Clement VII.
The fourth level accommodates three most famous rooms: The Paolina room, the room of Perseo, and the room of Amore and Psiche, true artistic works of painting.
The fifth level is made of the rooms of Treasure , the Library, Adrian room, the room of the Festoni, Cagliostra, Corridoio Pompeiano, and the Apartment of the Castellano.
The sixth level is the highest part of the castle where a beautiful statue of an angel stands. Castel Sant’Angelo offers an amazing view of Rome, especially during spring time when the sky is clear and you can see all the city just going around the castle. Take an Angel and Demons tour at night and you will see the Castle in a whole different light ! And see here for more information about entrance fees and opening hours of the Sant’Angelo Castle .