We all know that the capital of Italy is Rome. The city was found back on 21 April 753 BC by the banks of a river named the Tiber. Rome is still known to be one of the most historical and cultural places in Europe.
Roman Castles started right after the fall of the Roman Empire. This is when people started to build fortifications. Also as time went by in the Middle Ages families started to build large castles. In the year 1870, the Kingdom of Italy started to increase the number of castles.
Currently, the city is famous for its monuments and a large number of castles. Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the most popular sites that tourists often visit. There’s always confusion, is Castel Sant’Angelo worth a visit?
Well, this building carries a lot of interesting facts which have been revealed below.
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History behind Castel Sant’Angelo
Castel Sant’Angelo (The Castle of the Holy Angel) holds a history that is fascinating and complex at the same time. Emperor Hadrian gave orders to Demetraiano to design the building back in the year 135 AD. Back then it was named the Mausoleum of Hadrian. The building was intended to be used as a mausoleum (a building made of stone for the placing of the dead above the ground) for the family. It is located in Parco Adriano in Rome. More than one million people visit this castle every year.
The building has changed names and its architecture several times throughout the 2000 years from when it was built. At one time the building was known to be the tallest in the city of Rome. Many burials took place in the castle including Hadrian, which continued till the High Empire. Marcus Aurelius and the notorious Caracalla, have also been put to rest here.
A secret passage named Passetto di Borgo was used to connect Castel Sant’Angelo to St. Peter’s Basilica. This was done by Pope Nicholas III who thought that the passage may come in useful if he ever had to go through danger. In fact in 1527 during the Sack of Rome, the tunnel was used by Pope Clement.
Significance of Castel Sant’Angelo
The shape of the building is round where many significant objects have been kept. The Castle is a museum where cultural gems are treasured and it is open for all. There are a large number of monuments and mysteries throughout Rome. But interestingly Castel Sant’Angelo is known famously because it represents the city’s transformation in the best way throughout the years.
The well-known writer Dan Brown wrote the novel Angels and Demons mentions Castel Sant’Angelo. This is because the building was used for Illuminati purposes, back in the day. Basically to worship the devil for evil purposes.
The Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo allows visitors to capture the look of the footprints of the Archangel. The prints are in the form of round stones that have been kept from when he descended to Earth to announce that the plague will come to an end.
The castle got its name back in 590 AD when the great plague that almost destroyed the city of Rome was drawing near the end. Right then Archangel Michael was seen right at the top of the castle. As a result, the Pope named Gregory took this as a symbol and decided to give the castle its name. Till today there is a bronze statue of the Angel which is kept in the place of the apparition.
The building was used by the popes as a place for refugees back in 401 AD. It was also a home for the Archive and the Vatican Treasury. As well as a prison and court. But sadly due to the various attacks, several decorations and statues were demolished.
Over the years the outlook of the castle has changed greatly. New structures were mixed with existing elements. This was done to modify their functions. Currently, Castel Sant’ Angelo consists of five floors. Inside is a spiral ramp which at first leads to the cells named the chamber of ashes. These cells were used to incarnate historical figures.
Several rooms which were used as the Papal residence can be found as one keeps reaching to the top. These rooms are decorated with preserved paintings from the period of the renaissance. Also for those who are interested in weapons will find this place interesting. This is because the castle holds a huge collection of historical weapons used back in the day.
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Lastly, the topmost floor is an open terrace. The space was actually for ‘Tosca’ for the last scene of Puccini’s opera. This is where the heroine jumped off the roof after her lover was executed. This is ideal for taking photographs of the city of Rome from a higher angle.
The best time to take Castel Sant’Angelo Tour
It would take around 1-2 hours to take a tour of the whole castle.
It is highly advised to visit the castle from September to March. This is because the slightly colder weather makes the trip more pleasant. Evening visits lead to lesser crowds. When the beautiful sunset can be looked at from the rooftop.It has been heard that if one sees the castle at night then ghosts of Roman Empires buried here can be sensed. Also, the cries of papal prisoners are sometimes noticed, especially those who were tortured in the dungeons.
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Monday to Sunday- 9am- 7.30pm
But the time of the last entry is 6.30 pm.
Closed on national holidays which are – 1st January, 1st May and 25th December.
How to visit Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome
The castle can be visited by the use of Buses, trains, light rail, and metro.By Bus
To get off at Piazza Pia, the closest stop to Castel Sant’Angelo, board bus numbers 23, 271, 280, 62, or 982. From here, a 5-minute walk is all it takes to reach Castel Sant’ Angelo. Bus numbers 40, 34, 49, 87, 926, 990, and 46 are the other options.By Train
Hop on a train to Roma San Pietro station, then a 22-minute walk is all it will take to reach Castel Sant’Angelo.By Light Rail
Board train number 19 to get to Castel Sant’Angelo. Risorgimento/S. Pietro, the closest station, is a 12-minute walk away.By Metro
Take Metro line A and get off at the Lepanto station, a 17-minute walk from Castel Sant’Angelo. You can also get off at Ottaviano. From here, it is a 16-minute walk.
Unfortunately for those who plan to visit the castle by car will have a difficult time. This is because the building does not have car parking facilities of its own. But there are other car parks available nearby. These are all within a short walking distance.
Skip the line Castel Sant’Angelo tickets
Castel Sant’Angelo ticket can be booked in advance through the Rome travel service provider, for eg, Rome Tour Tickets.
- Long queues can be avoided by heading straight to the Castle. To take a look at the Roman architecture with weapons and art inside.
- Audio guides are available.
- All five floors including the terrace can be viewed.
- Discount is given to those who are under 18.
- The tickets are confirmed instantly upon booking.
- Children under 5 enjoy free entry.
- Tickets cannot be canceled or rescheduled once purchased.
Precautions for Covid-19 and tips when visiting Castel Sant’Angelo
- The castle is not particularly recommended for those who have physical disabilities which make it tough to move around. Since one has to walk around the whole building.
- Wearing comfortable footwear is strongly advised, as one has to constantly be on their feet.
- All visitors must wear a mask throughout the visit. The mask must cover the mouth and nose.
- Upon entry, the authorities will take the body temperature of all tourists.
- A maximum of 12 people is allowed in one group. This also includes the tour guide.
- The castle is sanitized regularly to keep it germ-free.
- Visitors must wash and sanitize before entering.
- Audio guides are available in various languages. These include English, German, Russian, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
- The bookshop is open from Tuesday to Sunday. From 9.00 AM to 7.00 PM.
- There is a restaurant located on the terrace for those who want to grab a bite.
- Lift services are available before request.
When visiting Rome one must keep aside a couple of hours to visit Castel Sant’ Angelo. Those who have a knack for historical architecture will enjoy this trip the most. The castle has weapons, paintings, and cells that all tell a story.
Various modes of transportation can be used by visitors to reach the building. And it is best to book tickets beforehand. This will be convenient so the one does not have to wait in line to enter. Also, skip the line entry tickets offer concessions for those under 18.
There are several facilities including refreshments for visitors. Also, effective measures are taken due to the Covid-19 virus.
Although a lot of walking is involved. But paying a visit to Castel Sant’ Angelo is worthwhile.