On one of my days in Rome I rode a bus across town in the direction of the Vatican but I got off before it arrived there so that I could first go to Castel Sant’Angelo. Today’s photo comes from the bridge over the Tiber River that leads to the castle’s main entrance. Castel Sant’Angelo was originally built between AD 134 and 139 as the mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and the remains of several other emperors after him were also placed inside its walls. Later the mausoleum was converted into a military fortress but as the Western Roman Empire collapsed the building fell into decline. In the 1300s the popes started using Castel Sant’Angelo as their personal castle and on occasional it also housed prisoners. An elevated walkway connected the castle to the Vatican, enabling popes to safely make their escape whenever a foreign army showed up at Rome’s door.
The name Castel Sant’Angelo comes from an old legend that tells of the Archangel Michael appearing atop the structure. Supposedly Michael was seen sheathing his sword and thus declaring an end to a plague that had been ravaging the city. If you look at today’s photo you can see a bronze statue of Michael on top of the castle. The view from up there is fairly good, but Castel Sant’Angelo isn’t quite tall enough to give a commanding view of all of Rome. Being less than half a mile from Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo can easily be walked to if you’re visiting St Peter’s Basilica and/or the Vatican Museum. In my opinion I’d say it’s better to go to Castel Sant’Angelo first, because then you can enjoy the sight of approaching St Peter’s Basilica as you walk the road from the castle to the Vatican.