Ponte Sant'Angelo and Castel Sant'Angelo

Another view of the Castel Sant'Angelo, the massive castle that began life as a tomb for the Emperor Hadrian in 139 A.D. In those days, no tombs were allowed inside the city proper, even for emperors, so Hadrian had his tomb built just outside the walls and across the Tiber River. This building continued to serve as an imperial mausoleum until the time of Caracalla.

The mausoleum eventually became Rome's chief fortress once the city started having to defend itself from invaders. The fortress contained a dungeon for Rome's most vile criminals.

Later, in the fourteenth century, it became a papal residence. It was a time of civil unrest for the papacy, and barricading oneself in a massive fortress was one way to stay safe. A tunnel still connects this fortress to the Vatican to allow popes an escape route in times of attack or civil disobedience. In 1527, the pope used the tunnel to flee Charles V during his sack of Rome.

The castle takes its name from the vision of the Archangel Michael by Pope Gregory the Great in 590 A.D., as he led a procession across this bridge, praying for the end of the plague. The angel appeared above the mausoleum and sheathed his sword, signaling the end of the epidemic. Sant'Angelo means "Holy Angel."

The bridge leading to the castle, appropriately called the Ponte Sant'Angelo, was also built by Hadrian, a regal entrance to his imperial tomb. The two arches closest to the camera in this shot are original, from the second century A.D. The angels on the bridge were designed by Bernini.

Today, the castle is an art museum, but signs of its colorful history remain throughout the building.

LENS: 28-70 at ~45mm | FILM: Fuji Velvia | EXPOSURE: f/22 at 5 minutes | DATE: 10/03

Go back to travel page one


LANDSCAPES | WILDLIFE | TRAVEL
PHOTO LINKS | ABOUT


Landscape, wildlife, and travel photography. All images on this site (c) Brian Kennedy.
See about link for contact information.