When you visit Rome, a walk along Sant Angelo Castle bridge is essential. Castle Sant Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian is the historic postcard picture you’ll witness. What’s more, visit early morning and it’s likely you’ll have the whole fairy-tale bridge to yourself. Visit later in the day to experience the bridge bustling with tourists, vendors and buskers. Here’s the question I hope to answer for you in this blog, is it worth going inside and what do you see inside Castel Sant Angelo? Scroll on for original photography from inside Castel Sant Angelo as well as a little information.
Inside the Walls of Sant Angelo Castle
Enter Castel Saint Angelo and walk around the perimeter, in-between the walls and the castle itself. As the same time be sure to admire the statues on display. Maybe take a couple of Instagram photos with them? Additionally, look up to experience the enormity of the castle. Lastly, as you walk around the perimeter there are a couple of 3D miniature model castles to give you a true perspective of its shape from above.
The spiral staircase seamlessly climbs 12 meters. Claustrophobics need not worry as it’s 3 meters wide by 6 meters tall. It’s wide design enabled the funeral procession to carry the remains of Emperor Hadrian through here to the Urns Room.
Looking Up From the Spiral Staircase
Airholes were built to let in light to the spiral staircase. However, today Castle Sant’Angelo has an electricity supply therefore the staircase is fully illuminated. Nonetheless, it’s worth looking up as you climb the spiral staircase.
Centre Of Hadrian’s Mausoleum
The next stop after passing the the spiral staircase is a passage leading upwards to Castel Sant’Angelo interior. Nowadays, this is a safe and somewhat beautiful passage. In fact, why not take an Instagram picture here? Back in the day, if anyone had managed to pass the wall, moat and drawbridge, they may be caught out by the trap door in the passage. Someone hidden above could pull the trapdoor and let you fall to your death. Who knows, maybe it’s still in use today for those who sneak in without buying a ticket? Finally, here you’ll pass through the centre of the mausoleum and this is where the remains of Emperor Hadrian are laid to rest.
Statue of a Kissing Couple
Did you make it past the trap door? Good, because there’s a cute statue of a couple kissing to see a the top.
Courtyard of Honour
The Courtyard of Honour features a statue of St Michael the Archangel. You may recognise St Michael as he is also the main sculpture on top of Castel Sant’Angelo. Moreover, this statue was sculpted by Raffaello da Montelupo who was an apprentice of Michelangelo. Papel apartments surround the Courtyard of Honor. Clement VII stayed here for seven months throughout the Sack of Rome in 1527.
Inside Castel Sant Angelo – Cafe Bar
After climbing the spiral staircase and passage to the top of you may feel like a cold beverage or an Italian espresso. Thankfully, there’s a conveniently located cafe mid way through your Castel Sant’Angelo visit.
Drinks With a View
Sit down at one of the cafe tables and enjoy a stunning view of St Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City. Alternatively, sit with a view over Castel Sant’Angelo Bridge.
The Grand Loggia
The design for the Grand Loggia was set in motion by the same man who put forward the idea of the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel. Originally, the Grand Loggia was the entrance to the Papel apartments. It still features a grand ceiling and originally the view was over greenery as far as the eye could see. However, today that view has changed into the Prati District of Rome.
Pope Paul III commissioned this room to hold the Papel archives in 1540. Hence, this is why it’s called the Library Hall today. The impressive ceiling paintings were created by Luzio Luzzi.
The original Pieta is found in St Peter’s Basilica. However, there’s a colour sculpture of Pieta on display here in the Library Hall. Doesn’t the Virgin Mary look the same age as her son Jesus Christ in this sculpture?
Treasury Room – Hadrian’s Real Burial Chamber?
The Treasury Room is considered to be the true location of Hadrian’s remains. Whether this is true or not does not take away from the mystery of this room. These safe boxes each feature 6 locks which required a different key to open. Pope Sixtus V used the Treasury Room to store valuable objects in addition to hoards of cash during his reign. Imagine the difficulty it would cause if you lost a key back in 16th century!
Staircase to the Castel Sant Angelo Rooftop
Take the narrow staircase to Angel’s Terrace, the highest point of your Sant Angelo Castle tour.
Saint Peter’s Basilica View from the Staircase
Rome is famous for a keyhole view but how about this of the St Peter’s Basilica?
Vatican City Views
Angel’s Terrace offers 360 degree panoramic views of Rome. Perhaps the most impressive is the close up aerial views of St Peter’s Basilica.
Ponte Sant Angelo Views
Look directly across Castel Sant’Angelo Bridge from the rooftop. This view alone warrants a visit inside Castel Sant’Angelo. What’s more, there’s also a view over to the Colosseum although a pair of binoculars would seriously enhance it.
Michael the Archangel
Do you remember the sculpture of St Michael the Archangel in the Courtyard of Honour? Here from the rooftop we have a close up view of the St Michael the Archangel sculpture on top of the Castle. As a matter of fact, we’re so close that I took this image with my mobile phone.
The Paulina Room was created under the reign of Pope Paul III. It was the entertainment room of the Pope’s apartment. For this reason, it’s as lavish as it is. As a matter of fact, this room will truly take your breath away. It was decorated by Perin del Verga with his assistants, Pellegrino Tibaldi and Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta.
Inside Castel Sant Angelo – Paolina Room Ceiling
The artwork of the Paolina Room features Paul III’s coat of arms as well as much on Alexander the Great, St Paul, St Michael and Emperor Hadrian. Look out for a painting which features 2 baboons. These were given to the Pope as a gift and the painting commemorates this.
Walk the Castle Walls
After retracing your steps through the Grand Loggia and passage back down, you’ll come out at the Castle Walls. I recommend you take the short walk around the castle walls.
View the Castle Defence
Of course, this castle used to be a fortress. As a result, you’ll see some of the ancient defensive weaponry.
Instagram Spots on the Castle Walls
As you circle the castle wall, you’ll discover many unique Instagram spots to pose for photos.
Parco Adriano View
Did you know that Castel Sant’Angelo has its very own park? You can view this park from above during your castle walls walk. Additionally, it’s free to take a stroll through Parco Adriano at anytime. Lastly, it’s not unusual to see parakeets in this park.
Michelangelo Work in Castel Sant Angelo
There are many hidden beauty spots as you explore Castel Sant’Angelo. For example, there’s a Michelangelo work in the Courtyard of Honour. Not his best piece but still it’s a Michelangelo. In addition, you’ll find staircases, majestic walls, circling climbs, Rome panoramas as well as much more.
Finally. You Don’t Want to Go Inside?
Maybe there are long lines, or you don’t want to pay the entrance fee? Whatever reason you have for not going inside is fine. However, there are no lines or fees to stand on the Castel Sant Angelo bridge and take photo! As a matter of fact, it’s one of the top free things to do in Rome. If you’re wondering how I found it empty, try visiting early morning when all the tourists are sleeping.
Enjoy your Castle Sant Angelo Visit
I shared several images from inside Castel Sant Angelo but there are a lot of hidden beauty spots to discover. Visit Castel Sant Angelo yourself to discover them.
Visit Vatican City. Things to do in Rome. Visit the Colosseum.