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The Castel Sant’Angelo sits in a commanding position beside the River Tiber close to the Vatican. It is an imposing building that has been through many stages in its life, including a mausoleum, a jail and a papal fortress. The castle now houses the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo.
Approach the Castel Sant’Angelo by crossing the Ponte Sant’Angelo to get a feeling of awe for the ancient structure ahead of you. The bridge was built at the same time as the original building, which was designed as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family. Castel Sant’Angelo was completed in 139 after four years of construction. Unfortunately, Hadrian died the year before completion but it still became his mausoleum upon completion.
Enter the building and focus on the different additions and changes made to suit each purpose of the building over the centuries. Hadrian’s mausoleum, a weapons display and the papal residential quarters make for interesting contrasts.
The themed sections off the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo help to give you an insight into each stage of the building’s lifetime. After Hadrian, the mausoleum had many other emperors interred in it before becoming a jail. Read about the notorious prisoners that were held here and brutal executions that took place. On top of this grim past, it has also served as a fortress for the Vatican, sheltering popes in times of danger. In the 13th century a fortified passageway was built to connect it to Vatican City.
Take your time to appreciate the artworks that you will find in this multi-level museum as well. Afterwards, head up to the roof for a great view of Rome. There are views across to the Vatican and down to the River Tiber as well as of the castle grounds. If the terrace seems familiar, it may be because it featured in the famous opera Tosca by Puccini. After enjoying the views, head to the on-site café for refreshments.
Castel Sant’Angelo is open daily from morning to early evening and admission fees apply. Rome Passes are accepted and can help you skip the line for the ticket office. Being close to Vatican City, the castle is easily reached on foot, by metro, bus and taxi.
Get the most out of your time spent at Castel Sant'Angelo. Here's a list of the most popular activities:
Have a look at our Rome things to do page to discover many more activities in the area.
Located in Rome City Centre, this guesthouse is within a 5-minute walk of Villa Borghese, Via del Corso, and Piazza del Popolo. National Gallery of Modern Art and Piazza di Spagna are also within 15 minutes. Flaminio - Piazza del Popolo Station and Rome Piazzale Flaminio Station are within a 2-minute walk.
Located in Repubblica, this family-friendly Rome hotel is steps from Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Via Nazionale, and Via XX Settembre. Via Veneto and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore are also within 10 minutes. Repubblica - Opera House Station is only a 2-minute walk and Barberini Station is 8 minutes.
Located in Rome City Centre, this guesthouse is steps from Via del Babuino, Via del Corso, and Piazza del Popolo. Piazza di Spagna and Villa Borghese are also within 10 minutes. Flaminio - Piazza del Popolo Station is 5 minutes by foot and Spagna Station is 8 minutes.
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Located in Navona, this hotel is steps from Palazzo Montecitorio and Via del Corso. Pantheon and Trevi Fountain are also within 10 minutes. Spagna Station is 11 minutes by foot and Barberini Station is 12 minutes.
Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo, Castel Sant'Angelo, and St. Peter's Square. St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel are also within 15 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 11 minutes by foot and Lepanto Station is 16 minutes.
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