Many people visit the Castel of Sant’angelo every day. They do a big tour passing through the different museums and expositions, and they end up seeing the incredible views, but only a few of them know the truth about its secrets and curiosities. Today we are going to tell you the 7 most interesting facts about Castel Sant’angelo.
1) Change of the name
Although it may sound weird, as we are used to recognize this Castel as “Sant’angelo”, the truth is that it hasn´t been its name from the beginning. Until the 590 d. C., the Castel was known as the “Mausoleum of Hadrian”, a name that of course was created by a roman emperor called Hadrian in the 1225 d. C.
This changed in the 590 d. C. when there was a season of plague in the city of Rome. In the middle of a procession to the Mausoleum, the Archangel Michael appeared to the pope Gregorio I, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague.
Unfortunately, we will never know if the legend is true or not, the only two things that we know are that the plague did end on those years, and that there are footprints left on the exact place where supposedly he appeared to save the city. This was the real reason why they changed the name to Castel of Sant’Angelo and also the reason why the put a statue of the angel on top of the castle.
2) Not one, not two…There are three viewpoints!
One of those fun facts about Castel Sant’Angelo you should keep in mind when visiting it, is about its viewpoints. Although it´s true that the museums and expositions that are inside the castle are great, most of the people go inside to admire the incredible view from the top. Well, be careful, because there is not only one viewpoint, there are three in total, and they are easy to miss out.
You will find the first one on the coffee shop located after going up the stairs of the outdoor yard. I don´t think the prices are very cheap, but it´s a great place to admire an incredible view of the Vatican City. Don´t get stuck there, because you have to go to the rooftop where the angel is located. That´s the most incredible view and from there you can literally see the whole city of Rome. For us, it was the best view.
Last of all, there is another viewpoint when going down the stairs. This one is very popular if you search for “Viewpoints of Castel Sant’Angelo” on internet, but being honest, the view looks straight to the bridge and the river, and although it´s not horrible, we prefer the other two.
3) The angel is jinxed
The famous statue of the angel located at the top of the castle may be beautiful, but the truth is that it´s jinxed. Always something awful happens to it.
The first version that was built, it was made out of wood and as you can imagine, it didn´t last long and it ended up being destructed in many pieces. Later, they changed it for a statue made of marble, but again, the angel ended up in awful conditions after the attack to the castle in 1379.
The third statue was also made of marble, but in this case, it was a lightning the one that destroyed it in 1497. The fourth try out was built with the idea of being the definitive, the one that will stand out to everything that could happen, it was made of gilded bronze…But, in 1527, they had to use the material to build cannons during another attack to Rome. Last of all, they built another one in 1753, which is the one that you can see nowadays. It´s made of bronze and hopefully it lasts many more years.
4) The bridge of the heads
Here is one of those “Castel Sant’Angelo facts” that you probably won´t forget. It´s a little bit more violent and it´s related to the bridge located in front. If you have been there, or at least if you have seen pictures of the castle, you may know that the most iconic view is from the bridge where the sculptures are located, right?
Well, in the old times, instead of the fantastic marble statues made by Bernini, what you could find at the beach were heads of the people who were sentenced to dead and executed. Although in these years, this was made to “Decorate”, it was also a way of giving an advice to all the people who passed through the bridge.
5) Who was the executioner?
Nowadays, this all sounds mad and crazy, but of course if heads were cut…Someone had to do it, right? Well, of course, this was the job of the official executioner of the Pontifical State. What a job! 😰
A very random fact is that in the XIX century, the one who had this job was Mastro Titta, which apparently had another job on an umbrella stand. It was so random, that on his normal daily life, he could go from being with the people on the umbrella shop, to cut heads whenever they needed him.
I bet most of the people believed that he was a nice guy when they saw him for the first time 😂.
6) The tallest building in Rome?
Is Castel Sant’Angelo the tallest building in Rome? Obviously not, its 48 meters are very low compared to the new buildings that are built every year in the modern area of Rome. Just so you can imagine, the tallest building in Rome nowadays, is the Eurosky tower, which has a height of 155 meters.
BUT… The curious fact is that when Sant’Angelo Castle was built in the 125 d. C., it was indeed the tallest building in all Rome. Imagine how low was the city during those years.
7) Inspiration for movies and videogames
This Castel has been useful for literally everything in life: First of all, it was a mausoleum, then it lived the appearance of the archangel Michael, during the war times, it also was the residence of the popes, and last of all, in these modern times, the castle has adapted itself to the new world and it has even been used for filming movies or as sceneries for videogames.
The castle has appeared in super productions of Hollywood like Angels and Demons. And what surprises the most, it was an important scenery in the famous videogame Assassins Creed II.
It´s a multipurpose castle.
¡Hope you enjoyed reading about the Castel Sant’Angelo fun facts!
That´s all, these were the 7 facts about Castle of Sant’Angelo we learned on our visit to Rome. We are sure that there are many more. If you end up learning any new one, share it with us, we will be happy to learn it.
Hope this article was useful, and if you have any question or something you want to know, just ask us!