Lungotevere Castello, 50
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The guided tour of Castel Sant’Angelo allows visitors to relive almost two thousand years of history: from the fascinating historical events of the Emperor Hadrian, who was buried here and from whom it takes its name, to the vicissitudes of the popes who made it their residence, to the political prisoners who were sent here in the 19th century.
Since 1925, Hadrian’s Mausoleum has been the seat of the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo, which has a rich collection of ancient and modern weapons and historical-military relics, a picture gallery and an exceptional collection of ceramics, medieval and modern sculptures.
The tour includes priority entry skip the line, a visit to the museum and access to the rooftop, from which one can enjoy extraordinary views of Rome.
Castel Sant’Angelo, now one of the main UNESCO sites in Rome, is undoubtedly one of the most representative mausoleums in the world. Accompanied by an experienced tour guide, you will have the opportunity to visit the long corridors inside, endless rooms and halls, arches and passages, as well as the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo.
Originally it was the monument that the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD had built to commemorate his family. It was a circular building topped by a cylinder culminating in a long series of marble sculptures, fragments of which are on display in the museum.
Due to its strategic position and massive structure, in the Middle Ages it was transformed into a fortress and incorporated into the Aurelian walls. It was to be the stronghold of the Orsini family until the first Colonna pope, at the beginning of the 15th century, became the property of the Holy See.
In the mid-15th century, Pope Nicholas V began the first modernisation works, but the architecture was to be radically revolutionised at the height of the Renaissance thanks to Pope Alexander VI Borgia, who commissioned the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Elder to carry out the work. Castel Sant’Angelo thus became a stronghold, a defence castle but also a luxurious papal residence.
It was later transformed into a prison where illustrious figures such as Giordano Bruno, Benvenuto Cellini and Cagliostro were imprisoned.
The exhibition tour of Castel Sant’Angelo consists of 7 levels where several rooms have been converted into a museum, hence the name Castel Sant’Angelo Museum.
The first 3 levels, accessed once through the entrance, constitute the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Here one accesses the ambulacrum of Boniface IX that surrounds the entire monument.
From the ambulatory, one enters:
The Dromos leads to the Atrium, which leads to the grandiose helicoidal brick ramp covered by a barrel vault, used for the funeral processions of emperors.
On the third level are the historic prisons, accessed through the Alexander VI Courtyard. Of particular note is the third cell, known to have housed the artist Benvenuto Cellini, from whom he escaped, probably using the external latrine not far from the cell entrance.
On the fourth level is the Cortile dell’Angelo (Angel’s Courtyard), leading to the papal flats, the Hall of Apollo, the Chapel of Leo X and the Bath of Clement VII.
On the fifth level are the loggia overlooking the Tiber (the panoramic view here is extraordinary), the private flats of Paul III Farnese (1534-1549) with their exceptional frescoed vaults and beautiful rooms (the Room of Cupid and Psyche, the Pauline Room, the Perseus Room), and the armoury.
The Sala Paolina leads to the Pompeian corridor, located on the sixth level, which leads to the Sala della Biblioteca, with its vault decorated with fine stuccoes (probably inspired by the Sala della Volta Dorata in the Domus Aurea di Nerone). On the same level are the Hall of the Adrianeo, the Hall of the Festoons, the Treasury Hall and the flat of the Castellan. There is also the ‘Cagliostra’, the prison where Giuseppe Balsamo, Count of Cagliostro, was imprisoned for witchcraft.
On the seventh level we find the rooms built at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries and mainly used for storing artefacts. Here we find the Sala Rotonda and the Sala delle Colonne. Also on the seventh level is the Terrazzo dell’Angelo, which offers one of the most exciting views of the city of Rome: an almost 360-degree panorama of the historic centre, with the Passetto di Borgo seen from above, in the direction of St. Peter’s Basilica.
N.B. You can change this ticket up to 24 hours before your visit.
Suggested by ArcheoRoma
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