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Castel Sant'Angelo

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Originally built to be a tomb for Emperor Hadrian, the Castel Sant'Angelo (also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian) was soon repurposed first for military use and then converted into a castle, fortress, and prison by several popes from the 14th century onwards. Visitors can enjoy exploring the decorated papal apartments, the Renaissance frescoes, and the incredible view over Rome from the battlements. Learn more about the castle's complicated history on a guided tour.
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City Passes

Combine your trip to Castel Sant'Angelo with Rome's other top attractions when you buy a Roma Pass or the Omnia Card!
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Omnia Vatican and Rome Pass Including Hop-On Hop-Off and Fast Track Entry
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4 Tips for Visiting the Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo | Photo: Sonse CC-BY 2.0
1
Observation deck on top!Make sure to go to the terrace on the 7th floor for a great view - the castle is open until 7.30 pm so at certain times you can even catch a glorious sunset across Rome.
Castel Sant'Angelo | Photo: Thomas Fabian CC-BY-SA 2.0
2
See the lights at nightTry to walk past the Castel Sant'Angelo at night as well as visiting during the daytime - it will be lit up, and the view of the castle from the Ponte Sant'Angelo is stunning.
3
Have a coffee & cornettoIf you'd like to linger over the view then there's a café at the top where you can down an espresso or enjoy some small snacks.
4
Wear good shoesYou'll need to climb a steep spiral ramp to get to the top floor and terrace, so wear good shoes and bring water!

The Most Important Sights of Castel Sant'Angelo

The different areas of the fortress can be reached via a spiral ramp that winds around the tower-like building.
Ceiling inside the Mausoleum of Hadrian | Flickr: Gary Todd, Public Domain

Inside the Mausoleum of Hadrian

The Castel Sant'Angelo has seven floors to explore, with several exhibitions on different themes. Visitors should make sure to go all the way to the Terrace of the Angel, which offers one of the best views of Rome and especially of Vatican City. You'll also get to see the bronze statue of the Archangel Michael up close.

Hall of the Urns

The remains of various Roman emperors and their families are kept here - a function that the later Castel Sant'Angelo has fulfilled since ancient times.

Prison

On the second level you can visit the prison cells and the yard, where executions were carried out.

Papal Apartment and Treasury

The Papal Rooms where the popes lived are located on the 4th floor and are decorated with frescoes in the Mannerist style, as well as house paintings and sculptures. Here is also the treasury.

Museo di Castel Sant'Angelo

The museum in Castel Sant'Angelo is dedicated to the history of Hadrian's Mausoleum and Castel Sant'Angelo, as well as weaponry, interior decoration and everyday objects from different periods.
Exterior view of Castel Sant'Angelo | Ulmon: CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Castel Sant'Angelo / Mausoleum of Hadrian: Almost 2000 Years of History

From ancient times through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and modern times, the fortress had many functions, first for the Romans, then the popes.

Roman Empire

The Castel Sant'Angelo (or Castle of the Holy Angel) was built between 134 and 139 A.D. as a tomb for the Roman emperor Hadrian and his family and was used as a burial place for the emperors who followed him until at least the death of Caracalla in 217 A.D. The tomb was disturbed, and much of the original interior looted or destroyed, when the building was converted to a military fortress in 401, and then in the subsequent sacking of Rome by the Visigoths in 410. Material from the tomb was also taken away to build churches as Christianity became more popular in Rome.

Middle Ages and Modern Times

Its present name refers to the legend that Archangel Michael appeared with his sword at the top of the castle in 590, as a sign that the plague outbreak was coming to an end. An alternate version tells of Pope Gregory I's attempt to persuade Romans to stop worshipping a pagan idol - when his procession arrived at the church the idol miraculously fell to pieces, and on the walk back to St Peter's the Pope had a vision of Michael wiping blood from his sword. In honor of the legend, a marble statue of St Michael was added to the castle in 1536 before being replaced by a bronze version in 1753. By this point, the tomb had been converted to a castle used by the popes and connected to St Peter's Basilica by a secret passageway. It was used as a fortress during wartime, and also as a prison. In 1901 the castle was mostly decommissioned as a military base and some areas were opened to the public, paving the way for the tomb and castle's current use as a museum.

Guided tours of Castel Sant'Angelo

Since the building has many different parts, a guided tour by competent guides is worthwhile.

Guided tours in English leave twice a day, and there are also two daily tours in Italian, so if you'd prefer to take a tour then make sure to reserve a spot in advance! Groups are small, made up of a maximum of 15 people, and visit several locations in the castle which aren't on the main itinerary. There are guided tours available which take you to some areas of the castle not open to other visitors, such as the Passetto del Borgo (the Pope's private passageway to St Peter's Basilica), areas of the historic prisons, and the elaborately decorated Stufetta (or bathroom) of Clement VII. If you have the time and are able to book a guided tour then you'll definitely have a great time! Alternatively, you can download the audio guide app, which is available in 7 languages and provides more context for the exhibits.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I plan for a visit?

The regular tour takes about an hour before giving you time to explore by yourself, and if you're only going to be exploring by yourself (or with the audio guide app) then you should expect to spend about 2 hours inside the castle. Read more.

Is the building accessible with wheelchairs?

A wheelchair accessible entrance to Castel Sant'Angelo can be found at the address Lungotevere Castello 50. In the building there are ramps to reach the different courtyards and levels. Read more.

General Information

Opening Hours:

The Castel Sant'Angelo is open daily from 9 am to 7.30 pm.

Tickets:

Tickets to the Castel Sant'Angelo cost 14€ and 7€ for students from EU countries. Entry is free of charge for children under the age of 18. Entry is free of charge for all visitors on the first Sunday of each month.

Address:

Castel Sant'Angelo
Lungotevere Castello
50-00193 Rome
Italy

How to get there:

The Castel Sant'Angelo is within easy walking distance of the Vatican. The metro stops several blocks away, the closest stops are Lepanto or Ottaviano stations, both on Line A. the closest bus stop is Crescenzio/Orazio, served by bus numbers 49, 280, 492, and 990.
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