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Castel_SantAngelo_Rome

Not far from Vatican there is a building known to many thanks to book of Dan Brow, “Angels and Demons”: Castel Sant’ Angelo , which is one of most interesting monuments of the Eternal City.

Originally built by Roman Emperor Hadrian, as a Mausoleum for him and his family it was used to be called Hadrian’s mole, its actual name derives from a legend. All took place in 590, when Rome’s inhabitants were being decimated by terrible plague. To stop the pestilence, the newly elected pope Gregorio Magno called all people to take part in the religious procession. While all those god fearing and religious people were passing by Emperor’s tomb, an archangel Michel appeared atop the building while taking his sword from its sheath. It was taken a sign of the end of the plague, which really finished shortly after. From this moment on, the building took a name of Castel Sant’ Angelo (the castle of Saint Angel).

Where-angels-dwell

From 14th century, starting with pope Nicholas III, Church took possession of this wonderful building, converting it into a true castle, which was connected by underground corridor with St. Peter’s Basilica. The famous passage was named Passetto di Borgo. The fortress became the refuge of pope Clement VII.
However the most characteristic piece, the statue of an angel was installed in 1536, ant it was describing the Angel just the way it was seen over one thousand years before, during the plague. The original statue from hand of Rafaello da Montelupo, was eventually replaced in 1753 by sculpture of the same subject by Peter Anton von Verschaffelt, the famous Flemish sculptor. Original angel now can be seen on the courtyard of the castle, whereas the replacement is still in its place. This incredibly charming and mysterious building was also used as papal prison, the idea which Puccini used in his ”Tosca”.

Now days the Castle holds in its interiors a museum, called Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’ Angelo with 4 wonderful and rare collections of: ceramics, sculptures, paintings and armory. The vast collection of ceramics actually is not accessible to public, but it contains some unique pieces from different epochs, starting with ancient pieces from Vatican’s necropolis trough out middle age to renaissance. The most interesting part of collection are some  tiles from the Borgia period.

Inside the castle visitors have opportunity to admire a huge collection of sculptures, located all over around the building. Starting from sepulchral effigies from ancient times, to the undisputable treasure of the collection: the San Michele Michele Arcangelo by Michele Bracci, which was created to adorn the altar of the pope Leo X, and some other notorious pieces. The paintings collection covers period from 14th to 18th centuries, and mostly contains  pieces from Cantini Bonacossi ans Menotti collections. Among most notprious there are:” Madonna in trono con il bambino e i santi” (Enthroned Madonna with child and saints), “Le storie di san Giovanni Battista” (John the Baptist stories) and “Cristo Benedicente” (Blessing Christ). Great interest from visitors takes the armory, which extends to four halls, every of which represents a period in armor, starting from 15th century to early 20th century. All of exposed weapons have verified authenticity.
So if fascinated by Dan Brown and his novel you decide to visit Rome and their beautiful Castle in particular, there is one wonderful place for your stay and not only:

Hilton Rome Cavalieri

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