After visiting the Vatican, we still had a few free hours. So we decided to make a small detour to visit the Castel Sant’Angelo. Impressive from the outside, its visit gave us mixed feelings.
Find more in the following article.
What is Castel Sant’Angelo?
Castel Sant’Angelo is sometimes called: Hadrian’s Mausoleum.
This name is given in reference to the genesis of the castle. The first construction was requested by the emperor Hadrian in 135. He wanted a funeral mausoleum for his family.
Two hundred years later, Emperor Flavius Honorius chose to incorporate this mausoleum into the Aurelian Wall to create a real protection. The mausoleum then lost its initial use and became a fortress. It then took the name of “castellum”.
Thereafter, the castle was modified by becoming a real weapon of defense. It was attacked many times by the adversaries of Rome (Visigoths, Vandals, Saracens, Ostrogoths…).
During a plague epidemic in 590, Pope Gregory I organized a procession. He had a vision of the Archangel Michael at the top of the castle, putting away his sword. The vision is interpreted as a sign that the epidemic will soon end. It occurred shortly after this vision. The castle then takes the name of Castel Sant’Angelo.
In the Middle Ages, it became the fortress that defended the Vatican. The owners often change until a transfer to the Church.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, it has been a museum and now belongs to the Italian state (it was ceded one last time in 2014).
Where is Castel Sant’Angelo?
The exact address of the castle is: Lungotevere Castello 50, 00193 Rome.
More concretely, Castel Sant’Angelo is on the right bank of the Tiber River. It is very close to the Vatican. We visited it after St. Peter’s Basilica. From the Basilica, you take the main street in front of it: Via della Conciliazione. At the end of the street, you are on the side of the castle.
How much does it cost to visit the Castel Sant’Angelo?
The standard ticket to visit the Castel Sant’Angelo is €12.
You can also order a guided tour online.
What are the opening hours of Castel Sant’Angelo?
The castle is open from Tuesday to Sunday and closed on Monday.
The opening hours are from 9a.m. to 7:30p.m. Entrance is possible until 6:30 p.m.
How long does the visit to Castel Sant’Angelo last?
The visit is quick since the interior of the castle is almost empty. We took less than an hour, taking our time to photograph the beautiful views.
Some travel websites say 2 hours, but that seems like an overly optimistic estimate unless the castle is full of visitors.
What is included in the visit to Castel Sant’Angelo?
Before or after your visit, take time to admire the exterior architecture of Castel Sant’Angelo. It is beautiful. Walk on St. Angelo Bridge in front of the castle. It is fantastic.
Once inside the fortress, the visit is made following a unique path. You will go through the different floors and discover, among other things, an exhibition of the stones used in the construction, the remains of the mausoleum, the apartments of the popes. There is also a museum that provides information on the history of Castel Sant’Angelo.
Described this way, the visit seems long and significant. In reality, the walk is fast, many of the rooms are almost empty and there are few signs to read to give you information.
The main asset of visiting the Castel Sant’Angelo, after the exterior architecture, are the views offered by being on the walls. On the 5th and last floor, you have an extraordinary view of the city of Rome. You see St. Peter’s Basilica very well, but also the domes of other Roman basilicas, the Tiber River, the streets of the city, the beautiful Supreme Court of Cassation (yes, the one in Rome does not look like a traditional administrative building!)…
The terrace is large. You won’t have trouble finding empty space to admire the view and take pictures.
Further down in the castle, you have a passage on a part of the walls deserted by the public where there are some old cannons. Other views are possible as you move along the circular wall.
After a stop on these viewpoints, you can continue your way to the exit.
Let’s finish with a nice idea for a night out. With Amélie, we were staying about 2.5 miles away from the castle. During the day, we did the walk, but not in the evening. However, if you go on the Internet, you can find beautiful night pictures of the Castel Sant’Angelo. Indeed, architectural lighting makes it even more imposing. From the bridge, the photographs are exceptional.
Highlights of Castel Sant’Angelo
- The architecture of the castle
- The view from the walls
- Less crowded than the Colosseum or the Vatican
Weaknesses of Castel Sant’Angelo
- The interior rooms lack rooms and information
- A short visit that costs €12.
In conclusion, the visit is mixed. The buildings and its location are remarkable. You have a rare view on the Roman capital. However, the interior is relatively empty and not well presented. The visit is mainly limited to the access to the terrace.
If you’ve already seen the essentials of Rome, take the tour. If you have to arbitrate between activities like the basilicas, the Forum and the Castel Sant’Angelo, opt for the first ideas instead.
As a professional blogger, I take advantage of my flexible schedule to travel a lot. I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list!