Mausoleum of Hadrian


One of the largest funerary monuments in Italy Rome, is the Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant’Angelo (English: Castle of the Holy Angel).


Started in 135 AD


Roman Emperor Hadrian


The architect of the mausoleum is unknown.


Roman Emperor Hadrian declared it as a mausoleum for himself and family.

Hadrian’s tomb

Also called Hadrian’s mole, was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 123 AD and 139 AD then Hadrian’s ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138 AD, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138 AD.



Tomb lost so much since building’s conversion to a military fortress in 401 .The urns and ashes were scattered by Visigoth looters in 410, and the original decorative bronze and stone statuary were thrown down upon the attacking Goths in 537.


The capstone of a funerary urn (probably that of Hadrian), which made its way to Saint Peter’s Basilica, covered the tomb of Otto II and the use of Spolia from the tomb in the post-Roman period was noted in the 16th century


The popes converted the structure into a castle, beginning in the 14th century; Pope Nicholas II connected the castle to St Peter’s Basilica by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo and it was is passage that links the Vatican City with the Castel Sant’Angelo. The passage is located on the west side of the castle.



Leo X was a Pope who built a chapel with a Madonna by Raffaello da Montelupo.


In 1536, Montelupo also created a marble statue of Saint Michael after the 590‘s plague.


Paul III was a Pope who built a rich apartment, to ensure that in any future siege the Pope had an appropriate place to stay.

When it was converted into a fortress that included a bronze Angel statue in 1753, sculpted by Pieter Anton von Veraschaffelt removing that previous Montelupo’s statue.


The angel statue of Veraschaffelt depicts Archangel Michael and Roman legend has it that this sculpture ended a plague that had brought havoc to Rome. This is why the name changed again to Archangel Michael and Verschaffelt’s statue is still in place and Montelupo’s can be seen in an open court in the interior of the Castle.


A bronze statue of the Emperor in the guise of the Sun is at the summit of the central tower

In medieval times, the mausoleum changed its function as an imperial tomb.

Towers and defensive walls were erected during the reign of the Emperor Aurelian

By the Middle Ages, Castel Sant’Angelo had been transformed into a practically unassailable fortress


It is one of the dearest places and receives visitors from all over the world.

You must Know

The castle took its name from the statue, built by Archangel St. Michael, standing high up on the enormous terrace

The Papal States also used Sant’Angelo as a prison

There is now a St. Michael statue on the top instead of the original Quadriga and colossal statue of Hadrian.

How Did It Look Like?

The basement was built as a square with each side 340ft. Over it was a colossal circular tower, several stories high. The diameter at the lowest story was 230ft. The exterior was columned and held statues.

Dark fact

Several executions took place in the small inner square and sometimes the mutilated bodies were displayed on the bridge in front of the castle as a warning


The Archangel, Michael appeared at the top of the mausoleum in year 590. After he appeared, he sheathed his sword as a sign that the plague is over. It was the vision of Pope Gregory the Great who was praying for the end of Plague.


The castle lost its military function in 1925 and started serving as a museum and still serving


The mausoleum has also been used as a shooting set for movies like: –

Roman Holiday 1953
(Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca)

The Castel Sant’Angelo can be seen in Assassin’s Creed 2.



The Castle Sant’Angelo has appeared in a book, Angels & Demons by Dan Brown






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