Friday, May 11, 2012

Castle Sant' Angelo

Castle Sant' Angelo is located in the heart of the city of Rome, on the bank of the river Tiber, opposite Vatican City. This Fortress was built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian (AD 130-139); however, it has also been a prison and a papal residence. 
It was used by former Popes who absconded there for protection in times of danger. There has been a covered passageway which still connects Castle Sant'Angelo to the Vatican, known as the passetto del borgo. During the mid sixth century AD the building was converted into a fortress and became the military key to Rome for the next 1000 years. 

The name, Castle Sant' Angelo, dates back to when Pope Gregory the Great, during a procession to plead for the end of a plague, saw an angel standing on the top of the castle sheathing its sword. This was interpreted as being a heavenly sign that the plague was about to end. From that moment onwards, it became known as Castle Sant' Angelo. A small chapel was built at the spot where the angel was supposed to have appeared. The event is commemorated by a magnificent 18th century statue, created by the Flemish artist Werschaffeltof , of the angel sheathing its sword. During the middle ages, the castle was home to numerous different noble families up until 1377, when it came under full papal control. 

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