Skip the line with this ticket and start exploring this amazing place right away with your expert guide. Walk through the inner chambers, listen to the stories about old stab-in-the-back events, get mesmerized with amazing frescoes and from the rooftop, enjoy the stunning view of Rome.
- Explore the grandiose tomb of Hadrian at one of the most well-known UNESCO sites in Rome without waiting in the line,
- Listen to the tales of charlatanry with this guided tour while walking through the inner chambers that will make you feel like you are in a cave,
- Have a look at the mesmerizing frescoes on the ceiling and don’t miss the view of Rome from the roof balcony.
- Skip-the-line entry to the Castel Sant’Angelo,
- 2-hour professional guided walking tour (in English),
- Headsets to hear your guide clearly.
Free cancellation up to 3 days before tour starts.
Built in AD 139 as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, this famous Rome landmark subsequently served as a fortress, prison and papal palace.
In 1870 it became a barracks and military prison and was converted into a museum in 1933. The building’s name derives from Pope Gregory the Great’s vision during the plague of 590, when he saw an angel sheathing his sword on the castle’s summit. Taking this as a sign that the plague was over, he built a chapel on the site of the vision and renamed the fortress. The 18th-century bronze Archangel Michael atop the Castel Sant’Angelo is a reminder of these events.
The mausoleum was constructed alongside a pagan necropolis which would later contain the tomb of St Peter and other Christians. Originally it was a marble and travertine-clad drum topped by a tumulus of soil with a gilded statue of Hadrian as a charioteer at its pinnacle.
The drum survives as the core of the present structure. The building consists of three basic interlinked elements: a battlemented exterior with Alexander Vi’s four corner bastions (it was fortified from the time of Aurelian onwards and was a mainstay of Rome’s defences in the Middle Ages); the original tomb at its core; and a square tower, also partly original, above the latter. Other buildings were constructed against and over the tower from the 15th century onwards.
There is much to see spread out over four levels. Entry is via Hadrian’s tomb, and a shallow ramp spirals up to his funerary chamber, the Sala del Tesoro (Treasury). The magnificent marbles with which it was decorated have vanished, though the lid of his sarcophagus survives as a baptismal font in St Peter’s. At the base of the building is the Chamber of the Urns, which housed the imperial ashes placed in the wall recesses. Near by is the 15th-century San Marocco prison where important prisoners (Benvenuto Cellini and Cesare Borgia among them) were held in gruesome conditions.
On the second level lies the Cortile di Onore (Courtyard of Honour) with its piles of cannon-balls, Raffaello da Montelupo’s 16th-century marble angel (originally on top of the castle) and a chapel with a facade designed by Michelangelo. Opening from the courtyard is a warren of corridors and apartments built and decorated for various popes. Look out for Clement VIPs bathroom with its grotesques by Giulio Romano, and the apartments commissioned by Paul III.
These include the Sala di Apollo (Hall of Apollo), decorated by pupils of Perino del Vaga and, in the little room beyond, Luca Signorelli’s Madonna and Saints and a triptych by Taddeo Gaddi. The Sala della Giustizia (Hall of Justice) contains Perino del Vaga’s magnificent Angel of Justice. Also on this level lies the Cortile di Alessandro VI (Courtyard of Alexander VI) with a wellhead carrying the Borgia coat of arms. On the third floor is the Loggia of Paul III, designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, and Bramante’s Loggia for Julius II. Here, too, is the castle’s most splendid room, the Sala Paolina, Paul Ill’s council hall, decorated with frescos by del Vaga mostly representing episodes from the lives of Alexander the Great and St Paul (Pope Paul’s real name was Alessandro – Alexander). There is a representation of Hadrian on the opposite wall. Beyond lies the Sala della Biblioteca (Hall of the Library), decorated in part with scenes from the life of Hadrian.