Castel Sant Angelo prison
Castel Sant’Angelo was built on Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum and has protected the Vatican and its popes for over fifteen centuries.
Pope Alexander IV Borgia built it at the end of the 15th century, and many popes used it to seek refuge within the solid and protective walls of Castel Sant’Angelo.
Castel Sant’Angelo housed the Vatican’s high-security prisons, where many vital figures from Italian history were imprisoned over the centuries.
There is also an 800-meter-long fortified passage between Vatican City and the castle. It is known as “Il Passetto” in the local Roman dialect.
Castel Sant Angelo prison is part of the Castle tour and is open daily from 9 to 7.30 pm, along with the museum.
Castel Sant’Angelo’s Historical Prisons
The Cortile della Balestra, also known as the Cortile del Pozzo, houses the Prisons.
As previously stated, Pope Alexander IV Borgia requested to build it.
Some of their structure, such as the round corridor connecting some of the cells, is original to the castle’s Roman structure.
Borgia had already adapted existing rooms to cells and had others built on purpose; he also built Castel Sant’Angelo’s well, decorated with his coat of arms.
They’re called secret prisons. Their structure and appearance remind the visitors of their mysterious past.
The prison’s parlor, accessed through a small door, leads to the aforementioned semi-circular corridor of imperial origin.
The first signs of imprisonment, in the form of three small, claustrophobic cells, can be found along it.
The rest of the complex comprises two more detention areas.
Both of these are archaeologically significant because they contain the original Roman walls of the mausoleum.
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They’ve also housed Benvenuto Cellini, a Renaissance goldsmith and artist who wrote a famous autobiography.
It describes spending time drawing the features of a Resurrecting Jesus and God Father on the walls of his cell.
You can still see the drawings in one of the prison’s cells.
Cellini is regarded as one of the most famous inmates because he was a well-known artist and one of the few who escaped.
He appears to have done it through the window of an external privy still in use today.
He was imprisoned due to personal feuds with Pier Luigi Farnese, who fabricated accusations against Cellini to lock him up.
Cellini wasn’t precisely a goody-two-shoes (he had a murder or two to pay for, which the Pope excused because he served the Vatican).
His stay in the Castel Sant Angelo prison was at least morally justified.
Fast forward a few centuries, and meet another of the prisons’ most famous inmates: the Count of Cagliostro.
They imprisoned Cagliostro for his unclear affairs and penchant for necromancy and magic, which his wife denounced.
Of course, the Inquisition could not let such a man go and sentenced him to death.
They commuted Cagliostro’s death sentence to life in prison due to his strong ties to Freemasonry.
They scheduled to transfer him to the San Leo prisons in Emilia Romagna, where he died.
Castel Sant’Angelo is a beautiful and exciting meeting point for history, folklore, and archaeology, with a lesser-known but equally exciting gem in its prisons.
You can choose from the Castel Sant Angelo tickets and access a realm of mystery where centuries-old secrets are waiting to be unveiled.
Don’t miss your chance to walk in the footsteps of legends – embark on an extraordinary adventure through time!
How to reach Castel Sant Angelo prison?
Tourists can also take a train from Fiumicino Aeroporto and travel 4 hours and 21 minutes to Castel Sant’Angelo via Roma Termini and Terni.
Visitors can also hire a town car and travel from Rome Airport (FCO) to Castel Sant’Angelo in 1 hour and 29 minutes.
Featured Image: Wikipedia.org