The bridge was transformed, fifteen centuries later, by the great sculptor Bernini who sculpted (he and his school) the angels. Castel Sant Angelo has always been a sort of work in progress and contains, in fact, all the history of Rome.
The best way to discover Castel Sant Angelo is crossing the bridge on the Tiber that has the same name and then, visit the Castel inside, not only walking around just on the road to St Peter. That visit is an unforgettable experience.
At the beginning, in the 2nd century, it was a Mausoleum that contained the ashes, first of Hadrian and than of other emperors. Later, the popes transformed the Mausoleum in a fortress where they could protect themselves from the assaults of their enemies and that they could reach through an elevated long (800m) corridor that connect the Vatican with the Castel Sant'Angelo, the famous “Passetto di Borgo”.
The fortress was also a prison. In the 18th century Cagliostro was held in one of the cells of the Castle and the last act of the Puccini’s opera, La Tosca, takes place on the terrace of the Castel Sant Angelo where la Tosca, desperate after Mario has been shot, jumps into the river Tiber.
During the Renaissance, the refuge of Popes had very luxury apartments, decorated with splendid murals. But some of the paintings that we can admire now, for the first time, are much more recent: beginning of the 20th century, pure Liberty style, with military topics, because the Castel Sant'Angelo became also a military garrison after the unification of Italy.
All the rooms and the stairs of the Castel are now open to the public. All the visitors can also walk through Giovanni Sallustio Peruzzi's (16th century architect) Gate that leads to the gardens.
Another important new opportunity is the very sophisticated technology that is offered to the visitors thanks to some brand new Apps for smartphones with explanations in 7 languages.
Opened from 9h - 19h30h every day.
From 24 June to 17 September, from Thursday to Sunday special summer timetable until midnight.