Castle of the Holy Angel – Wonderful Castle
At the request of the Emperor Hadrian people began to build his tomb in 130. Emperor was fifty-four years old and it was time to think about the last resting place. He ordered to build a magnificent tomb for himself and his family.
The Roman, like the Greek, funerals had always been considered a sacred ritual. The Romans believed in the sad fate of unburied men. Therefore, many emperors had wonderful tombs. The imperial funeral processions were luxurious, with musicians, actors and mourners.
Hadrian was called the Restorer, because during the years of his reign a number of buildings were built in Rome. The most interesting of them are the temple of Venus and Circus Maximus. Hadrian decided to build a mausoleum and surround it with a wall. The building was supposed to reflect the greatness of the emperor. They decided to build it on the right bank of the Tiber. But Hadrian did not see his mausoleum completed. His tomb was fully completed only a year after his death. Since then Hadrian’s mausoleum became the burial place of the emperors.
At the end of the III century Emperor Aurelian erected walls around the city center as a protection against the barbarian invasions. Hadrian’s mausoleum was included into the defensive ring.
In 590, the magnificent tomb had another name. According to legend, there was a terrible disaster in Rome – the plague. The villagers died one after another. And the rest of the people prayed the Virgin Mary for protection. Suddenly they saw the angel on the spire of the Hadrian’s mausoleum. That vision was seen as ending of the plague. And Adrian mausoleum became known as Castel Sant’Angelo – Castle of the Holy Angel.
In the Middle Ages there was a prison in the castle. Giordano Bruno and Count of Cagliostro were imprisoned there. Then the castle was turned into a papal refuge and special viaduct linked it with the Vatican palace.
In the XVII century sculptor Bernini installed ten statues of angels on the bridge and a century later there was a bronze angel on castle’s spire.
Today, the castle is a museum. There you can see the old wrought-iron chests where popes kept the religious treasures; cells for prisoners; exhibits illustrating the history of the construction of the castle.