Castel Sant’Angelo

Delve into 18 centuries of history at Castel Sant’Angelo.

Built as the tomb of the mighty Emperor Hadrian, the Castel Sant’Angelo has seen an astonishing amount of bloodshed, turbulence, and change in the millennia since. 

From fleeing popes and secret passages to executions and medieval prisons: the Castel Sant’Angelo takes up a fascinating place in Rome’s history.

Highlights

  • Cross the Ponte Sant’Angelo, one of the most intact ancient bridges in Europe, as you walk up to the imposing castle.
  • Admire the opulence and art of the papal rooms, as you explore the fortress once used as the pope’s refuge. 
  • Marvel at one of the finest views in Rome; the sweeping panoramas from the Angel Terrace.

Tickets & Prices

Discover which Castel Sant’Angelo ticket most suits your needs.

Castel Sant’Angelo: Reserved Entrance Ticket

Guarantee your spot visiting one of Rome’s ancient attractions with this reserved entrance ticket. You can explore Castel Sant’Angelo without waiting in line to purchase tickets – just show up with the ticket ready on your phone.

Important Ticket Information:

  • Your ticket will be on your phone – you will need to show this and photo ID when entering.
  • The ticket is valid for the date you select at checkout. 
  • You can choose any time slot on that day, from 9am – 7:30pm (last entry at 6:30pm).
  • This ticket cannot be canceled, amended, or rescheduled.

Castel Sant Angelo Skip-the-Line Ticket with an Audioguide

Avoid the fuss of purchasing tickets on the day and breeze into Castel Sant’Angelo with this online ticket. It includes an informative audioguide which will tell you the history behind what you are seeing before you. 

Important Ticket Information:

  • Your ticket will be on your phone – you will need to show this and photo ID when entering.
  • The ticket is valid for the date and time you choose at checkout.
  • Audioguide languages: Italian, English, Spanish, French & German.
  • The audioguide is downloaded onto your mobile phone. You will need to bring earphones for the best experience.
  • You can get a full refund for cancellation up to 24 hours before the schedule.

Tickets for Castel Sant’Angelo: Angels and Demons Experience

Explore the castle with a knowledgeable guide, who will regale you with tales of the fortress’ long and storied history. Gain insight into the castle’s origins in the Roman Empire, it’s reimagining into a papal fortress, and later its time as a prison. On this tour, you will access areas normally cordoned off to general visitors – most notably the Passetto di Borgo, the secret passageway leading to the Vatican.

Important Ticket Information:

  • The ticket is valid on the date and time selected upon purchase.
  • You will be emailed a voucher to display on your phone; bring photo ID.
  • You can usually choose between two times when purchasing: 11am or 5pm.
  • Tours typically take around 2 hours. 
  • You will meet your guide on St. Angelo Bridge. Arrive 10-15 minutes before the tour is due to start.
  • You can get a full refund for cancellation up to 24 hours before the schedule.

What to see and do 

Get an idea of what to expect with a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo with these highlights.

Chamber of Ashes

The burial chamber which housed the urns of emperors is empty of any remains and has been for well over a thousand years. But you can still see where they would have been placed, and see inside what was intended to be the tomb of Hadrian in the center of the mausoleum.

Sala Paolina

Wonder at the wall-to-wall frescoes of the Sala Paolina, the largest of the papal apartments on Castel Sant’Angelo’s upper floors. Commissioned by Pope Paul III at some point in the 1540s, this majestic hall served as the residence of the pope when staying in the castle – as a refuge or otherwise. The artwork is undeniably impressive, but the frescoes are hiding some rather surprising additions. Mythological figures and military legends like Alexander the Great are not exactly the religious material you would expect in the rooms of the pope.

Courtyard of the Angel

Dating from the 15th century, the Courtyard of the Angel is a remnant from the Italian Renaissance period. It is home to the statue of the archangel Michael, which once sat above the castle. The statue was sculpted by Raffaelo da Montelupo, the apprentice of Michelangelo. The Shrine of Pope Leo X is also located in the courtyard – this was designed by Michelangelo himself.

Castle Walls

Walk along the castle walls for excellent views over the city and an insight into the structure’s time as a fortress. You can see replicas of weaponry used in the medieval period – and in ancient times – as you walk around the battlements.

Terrazzo dell’Angelo

High up on the fifth floor is the Angel Terrace, which is home to one of Rome’s best views. You can see all over the Eternal City from this spot, with the views of St. Peter’s Basilica unrivaled. It’s almost worth entering the castle for this viewing platform alone.

Optional Extras: Passetto di Borgo and the Dungeons

These two attractions can only be accessed by joining a private tour. The Passetto di Borgo is a secret passage built-in 1277 connecting the castle with the Vatican – you can see this hidden corridor, where the pope used to flee when in danger, on a guided tour.

The dungeons are an altogether more gruesome affair; dark, dank, and used for torture. One of the most famous prisoners was Giordano Bruno, a Dominican friar imprisoned and later executed for his belief that the stars were each their own suns, with their own solar system.

Directions

Castel Sant’Angelo is located in Parco della Mole Adriana on the north banks of the River Tiber, at Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 in Prati.

The closest metro station is Ottaviano, which is a 15 minutes walk away. Lepanto metro station is around the same distance, at 16 minutes. It is on Metro Line A.

Buses run practically to the castle’s doorstep: you can catch numbers 23, 280, 40, 64, 982.

Castel Sant’Angelo is only 10 minutes west of the Vatican.

Did you know that: (5 Interesting Facts!) 

  1. Castel Sant’Angelo means Castle of the Holy Angel. It earned its name in the 6th century when Pope Gregory had a vision of the archangel Michael above the castle. He believed it marked the end of a great plague that had blighted the city.
  2. The castle played refuge to Pope Clement VII in 1527, after an attack on Rome by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The pope uses the secret passageway Passetto di Borgo to escape the Vatican.
  3. Castel Sant’Angelo was the tallest building in Rome during ancient times. 
  4. The famous angel statue above the castle is the sixth iteration. It has been destroyed five times since the 11th century.
  5. Augustus’ mausoleum is across the Tiber River from Castel Sant’Angelo; it served as inspiration for Hadrian.

History

Castel Sant’Angelo has had a busy and turbulent existence for almost 2000 years. These are the main events that occurred during that time:

  • AD 134 AD – AD 139. Castel Sant’Angelo is built. It was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian to be his tomb.
  • AD 217. The last Roman Emperor known to be entombed in the mausoleum, Caracalla, has his remains placed inside the tomb.
  • AD 401. Castel Sant’Angelo sees its first change in purpose: it becomes a military fortress, incorporated into the Aurelian Walls.
  • AD 410. The Western Roman Empire falls. Rome is sacked, and the urns of the mausoleum are destroyed.
  • AD 1277. The Vatican is linked with Castel Sant’Angelo by a hidden passageway, the Passetto di Borgo. The castle is to be a refuge for the Pope if ever needed.
  • AD 1527. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sacks Rome. Pope Clement VII uses the secret passage Passetto di Borgo to escape the Vatican and hide in Castel Sant’Angelo.
  • 15th-16th century. Italian Renaissance occurs. Works from the likes of Michelangelo and Raphael are added to the Castel Sant’Angelo.
  • 17th century. The castle is used as a prison – executions are performed on the grounds.
  • 1901. The castle is decommissioned as a military building, restoration work begins.
  • 1925. Castel Sant’Angelo becomes a museum, Museo Nazionale di Castel S. Angelo, and holds collections of ancient artifacts (with a focus on military history).
Castel Sant'Angelo map

Address: Castel Sant'Angelo, Lungotevere Castello 50, 00193 Roma, Italy · view larger map

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