Inside Castel Sant Angelo

The Mausoleum of Hadrian, also known as Castel Sant’Angelo, is a famous monument in Rome. 

It was initially constructed as a mausoleum for Roman Emperor Hadrian and his family but was later used as a fortress and papal residence. 

The castle is historically and culturally significant, having been involved in several pivotal events in Italian history.

The castle has been beautifully preserved, with numerous exciting things to discover. 

Visitors can see tapestries, frescoes, mosaics, and sculptures, all commissioned by papal families over the centuries. 

To get inside Castel Sant Angelo, buy your tickets online and gain a new understanding of Rome’s extensive historical and cultural legacy.

The castle also has fantastic views of Rome and is an excellent location for an aerial view of the city.

In addition to its historical significance, Castel Sant’Angelo has religious significance because of its association with St. Michael the Archangel. 

According to legend, St. Michael appeared to Pope Gregory the Great atop the castle and told him to end a plague that had afflicted Rome for centuries. 

As a result, the castle is known as The Angelic Castle and is celebrated by Roman Catholics and people of other faiths.

Looking to the past can reveal the secrets of an exceptional and rather macabre Rome. 

You must go inside Castel Sant’Angelo and learn about Rome 2000 years ago for a more immersive experience.


As you enter Castel Sant’Angelo, the Mausoleum of Hadrian is located on the first floor. 

Hadrian’s children, as well as those of his wife Sabina and themselves, were buried here. 

The ashes of succeeding emperors and those of their wives and close relatives were also interred. 

The names and positions of those buried here are listed on the Mausoleum’s inscriptions.

Papal Apartments

The fourth floor houses the beautifully frescoed rooms of the Papal Apartments and the most magnificent artworks, including ceramics, sculptures, and paintings. 

Over the centuries, large rooms were built inside the castle to accommodate the Pope. 

In the 16th century, Pope Paul III converted a portion of the structure into a small palace.

Passage of Boniface IX

The passage of Boniface IX, designed by Niccolo Lamberti for Boniface IX Tomacelli, is located on level 2. 

The reconstructed medieval weapons, trap door, and guard room tell the story of the castle’s origins as a prison. 

In the mid-1530s, the celebrated Florentine artist Benvenuto Cellini was imprisoned here for attempting to steal papal funds. 

Dominican Friar Giordano Bruno, who was imprisoned and later burned alive for his views on the state of the galaxy, also saw the walls of the Castel Sant’Angelo dungeons.

Military Displays

The Armory is a small structure located on the third tier of the courtyard to the west of the courtyard. 

The structure is divided into two levels: the lower Armory on the courtyard level and the upper Armory on the Giretto di Alessandro VII level. 

The castle’s upper-level guards primarily used the room as a weapon storage area. 

The four interconnected chambers, dubbed “upper armory,” house approximately 6,000 weapons, armor, and military artifacts in the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo.

Alexander VII Walkway

Pope Alexander VII of the Chigi family built a circular corridor with a series of arches and an open wall on the front side in the 17th century. 

When you arrive at this walk, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Vatican museums and the city of Rome. 

Caffetteria Ristorante Le Terrazze, a cozy restaurant/bar, is nearby. Grab an espresso from this cafe while admiring the magnificent views from here.

The Courtyard of the Angel

Courtyard of the Angel castel sant angelo
Image : Canva

The Angel courtyard on the third floor served as a reception area for the papal apartments. 

The rectangular-shaped courtyard runs from north to south, with the armory building on one side and the papal apartments on the other. 

The statue of the holy archangel Michael stands in the courtyard’s center. 

The Castel Sant’Angelo is dedicated to the holy archangel Michael, who is said to have appeared legendarily atop Hadrian’s Mausoleum.

The Library

The room was named after its proximity to the fortress’s most secure area, the Sala del Tesoro. 

It served as the papal archives and secret repository beginning in the middle of the 15th century. 

The frescoes on the vault’s ceiling are a grotesque design that gained popularity after the discovery of Nero’s Golden House during the Renaissance. 

This room, lavishly decorated in 1544, was the focal point of Paolo III Farnese’s apartment’s northern wing. 

The library includes the Sala dell’Adrianeo and the Sala dei Festoni, two adjacent, tastefully designed chambers.

The Terrace

On the top terrace, the bronze figure of an angel sculpted by Peter Anton von Verschaffelt in 1752 commands attention. 

The so-called “convict” and “mercy” bells, which signaled executions at the time, are in the upper left corner. 

The Castel Sant’Angelo terrace is well-known for its role in Puccini’s Tosca’s final act. 

After witnessing her lover’s death, the title character hangs herself from a building. 

The terrace is also famous for its views of the Pantheon’s dome, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, and the best city view in Rome.

Passetto di Borgo

Passetto di Borgo castel sant angelo
Image: Tripadvisor.com

The Passetto di Borgo, a secure path, ensures the Pope’s safety while traveling from his apartment in the Vatican to Castel Sant’Angelo. 

During the 1527 Sack of Rome, Clement VII Medici used it to enter the fortress in search of safety. 

The Passetto is approximately 800 meters long and is reached through a modest entrance at Bastione San Marco. 

It was also featured in Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, which increased its popularity.

Spiral Staircase

Starting in the Atrium and curving within the Mausoleum, this helical ramp spans a 12-meter height difference. 

This slope then leads directly to the burial chamber, also known as the Hall of Urns. 

The ramp has no openings outside other than the top, and it was built to carry the emperor’s funeral procession on his final journey. 

Air holes were built to provide lighting for the spiral staircase. 

The air holes are no longer necessary because Castel Sant’Angelo is now powered by electricity. 

However, please take advantage of gazing upwards to see how the castle was lit up in its glory days.

The Grand Loggia

On the fourth level of Castel Sant Angelo’s interior, there is a white marble parapet, two freestanding columns, and two half columns against the building’s jambs. 

Four Latin mottos are inscribed in painted cartouches in the vault, reflecting the purpose of this portico space, which Julius II intended to be a “loggia of benefits.”

Paolina Rooms

The Sala Paolina, which serves as both the welcome area and Paul III Farnese’s living room, is without a doubt one of the most important locations in the castle (1534-1549). 

The regal and magnificent hall of honor welcomed ambassadors and other guests. 

Alexander the Great and St. Paul heavily influenced the decoration. This made it one of the most important pieces of creative heritage from sixteenth-century Rome.

Advice for Visitors

  1. Book your Castel Sant Angelo ticket in advance to avoid long lines at the offline ticket counter.
  1. Consider taking the metro to the castle, which is only a short distance from the Otaviano or Lopiano stations.
  1. Visit Castel Sant’Angelo early in the morning to bypass the large crowds. Checking the best time to visit can ensure that you’re able to experience everything that you want to.
  1. Choose your shoes carefully because the Sant’Angelo tour requires a lot of walking.
  1. If you visit during the summer, enjoy the sunset from the Castel Sant’Angelo terrace.
  1. After seeing what’s inside Castel Sant’Angelo, you could go to Le Terrazze restaurant at the top of the castle.
  1. Stroll down the pedestrian bridge over the Tiber River for a spectacular castle view.


What can I find within Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo?

Inside Castel Sant’Angelo, you’ll find the Papal Quarters, Hadrian’s Tomb, the execution ground, frescoes, and a well-preserved fortress, among other things.

Featured Image: Tiqets.com

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