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Castel Sant’Angelo: Mausoleum, Fortress and Museum in the Heart of Rome

history of rome, places of rome


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Do you know that in Rome, among the various monuments that decorate the city, it is possible to visit a fabulous castle that has a history of almost 2,000 years? I’m talking about Castel Sant’Angelo, an ancient mausoleum built at the behest of the emperor Hadrian and completed by his successor Antonino Pio in 139.

For many centuries Castel Sant’Angelo will be used as a tomb, until the sixth century when its new usefulness was understood during the Greek-Gothic war, and in this period it was also due to the change of its name from Mausoleum of Hadrian to Castel Sant’Angelo, in honor of San Michele Arcangelo.

In the guided tour of Castel Sant’Angelo, extension of the guided tour of the Basilica of Saint Peter and the Vatican Museums, we will discover the various rooms that hosted the popes who made the history of Rome, such as Julius II who preferred this fortress to the Vatican apartments where his bitter rival and predecessor Alexander VI Borgia had lived. The Castle will also have a fundamental role during the Sack of Rome in 1527, especially for the defense of Pope Clement VII, just think that the renovations after this tragic event were so expensive that lead to an increase in the tax on the grinding of the flour and animal slaughter.

We will also visit the treasure room of Castel Sant’Angelo, which could contain a sum even greater than one million ducats, several million euros today. The treasure was kept in a safe closed by a door with two keys, owned respectively by the pope’s secret treasurer and the cardinal dean, while six keys were needed to open the safe (so large as to prevent from being taken away from the door), and at each opening the treasurer had the task of checking the status and inventory of the precious items and coins.

Interested in discovering many other details about Castel Sant’Angelo and its secrets? Follow me on my extended tour to the Basilica of Saint Peter and the Vatican Museums, or contact me directly to book any other of my guided tours in Rome.