Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is an unmistakeable towering building located in the Capital of Italy, Rome, which was used by the 14th Emperor of the Roman Empire, Divus Hadrianus, as a monument for himself and his family.
After the emperor’s death in 138 AD, the structure became known as Hadrian’s mole. Initially, the building was a decorated cylinder, including a large garden top and golden chariots drawn by four horses, famous in that period. The emperor also built the Bridge of Hadrian (Ponte Sant’Angelo), which has the purpose of spanning the Tiber from the city center to his newly constructed mausoleum and which today is an example of the popularity and success of the Baroque artistic style, including Christian theological elements illustrating the Christian beliefs. After three centuries, many of the artifacts and tomb decoration were lost when the Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Flavius Augustus Honorius, ordered to have it used as a military fortress since 401, being included in the line of city walls built between 271 and 275 in Rome. The capstone of a funerary urn (which is considered to be that of Hadrian himself) is one of the few elements that has managed to survive during time, being hosted by the Old Saint Peter’s Basilica before being eventually recycled in a huge Renaissance baptistery.
Since the 14th century, the popes decided to change the building into a castle. Cardinal Clement VII used the structure as a refuge from the German mercenary pikemen, commanded by the mutinous troops of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. The Sant’Angelo Castle also functioned as a prison during that time, as executions took place in the small interior square.
Today the building is visited by many tourists who come here from all over the world to see the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo.