Walking down the bridge towards Castel Sant’ Angelo, you're greeted by 10 angels holding instruments from the Passion, designed by Bernini. The castle overlooks the Tiber River and Vatican City, with amazing views from the top of the fortress. Along with its beautiful views of the city, it’s located conveniently close to St. Peter's (a nice two for one deal, if you will) and is full of its own history as well. For a fun and easy sight to see in Rome, with some amazing pictures at the top, check out Castel Sant’ Angelo on the other side of the river.
Originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for his family, Hadrian’s Tomb was one of the many monuments he erected in Rome and outside the city (one being Villa d’Este). It was later converted by the popes into a castle and military fortress. During this time, the church also used it as a prison and it held many famous Roman prisoners and dissenters of the the Catholic Church. To this day, there’s a passageway from the Vatican to Castel Sant’ Angelo for the pope to escape by.
Now, the castle is open to the public as a museum and can be explored from within. The outside grounds, ramparts, libraries and art displays are all available for visitors.
Castel Sant’ Angelo was once the tallest building In Rome and the views from the top of the tower are still amazing today. You can get a great look at St. Peter’s dome and the Vatican, as well as the Tiber river and across, into the center. It has a 360 degree view and walking around the circular structure gives you plenty of opportunity for photos.
There’s also a nice cafe at the top of the castle where you can grab a coffee with a view. The window tables go quickly though, so get there early to snag the best spot.
In my 72-hours in Rome Guide, I recommend fitting Castel Sant’ Angelo in with the Vatican for an afternoon in the neighborhood of Prati. It’s a lot to fit in, doing St. Peter’s and the castle in one afternoon, but some shopping on Via Cola di Rienzo and snacking in the area at Mondo Arancina, Gelateria La Romana, or a full lunch at Arc Angelo make it more manageable.
However you want to fit it in, Castel Sant’ Angelo is located close enough to the center to combine it with a wide variety of activities.
While it’s not the most beautiful monument in Rome, this castle has collected loads of history and stories over the centuries, making it an intriguing place to visit. The photos at the top are also worth the price of admission.
Is Castel Sant’ Angelo a must-see for you? Or are other monuments taking precedence over this one?
Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma
Ticket office: +39 06 6896003
Ticket price: €10, €5 for reduced
Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:00-7:30