Step across the Tiber, and discover the district on the west bank – Rione Borgo, which connects central Rome to the Vatican. Your two hour itinerary with your private, expert guide will take you to visit the imposing Castle Sant' Angelo as well as Saint Peter's Basilica.
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The unmistakable cylindrical contour and particularly scenic position of Castle Sant'Angelo along the shore of the Tiber River makes it one of the town's most famous landmarks. Its appearance today is the result of a long series of transformations that have barely left a trace of the glorious Roman "Hadrianeum", the mausoleum that Emperor Hadrian built for himself and his successors.
Emperor Hadrian (76-138 AD) built a tomb in Domizia's gardens that was to become the dynastic sepulcher of the Antonine dynasty. Work started in 123 but was only completed in 139, after his death. The Pons Aelius (the predecessor of the Ponte Sant'Angelo), inaugurated in 134, linked the monument to the Campo Marzio. The present entrance of the Sepulchral Chamber (which is about 10 feet above the level of the ancient one) leads via a short corridor to a square hall. The semicircular niche hollowed out in the back wall was probably intended to contain a statue of Hadrian. On the right is a spiral ramp leading to the cella (mortuary chamber), the heart of the monument. You will see the funerary urns containing the ashes of Emperor Hadrian and his wife Sabina in this square room, which was originally faced with marble.
In those days, the mausoleum was an enormous cylinder positioned on a square plan, crowned by a luscious garden with tuff and travertine tiles. In the center, at the summit of the central tower, there was probably a bronze statue of the Emperor in the guise of the Sun, riding a chariot.
Towers and walls were erected during the reign of the Emperor Aurelian and a defensive bastion was built during the Barbarian invasions. By the Middle Ages, Castle Sant'Angelo had been transformed into a practically unassailable fortress in a particularly strategic position that defended the northern entrance of the city.
The popes also commissioned the construction of a covered fortified corridor connected to the Vatican Palaces, which was to be used as an escape route in the event of danger. Castle Sant'Angelo also guarded the riches of the popes: the treasury room in the centre of the fort was a kind of safe for Rome during the Renaissance. The castle was also used to store enormous food reserves, which were to be used in the event of an attack. There were wineskins set in the walls, enormous water tanks, granaries and even a mill.
Castle Sant'Angelo was sadly notorious for functions of a much more grave nature – its courtyards were the scene of executions by decapitation. The heads of the condemned would then be hung for days along the bridge as a terrible warning.Today it is visited by tourists from all over the world and is home to the National Museum of Castle Sant'Angelo.
Saint Peter's Cathedral was consecrated on November 18, 1626. It is the world's largest church, with a floor area of 21,477 square meters. The external perimeter is 1,778 meters, the cathedral is 186.35 meters long and 97.50 meters wide. The main nave is 40 meters high, and the dome 132.50 meters. There are 44 altars, 11 domes, 778 columns, 395 statues, 135 mosaic panels. From Saint Peter's portico you enter the main entrance hall, with its five doors. On the right you can see the Holy Door, which is opened only every 25 years, in Jubilee or Holy Years.
This late Renaissance marvel was principally designed by Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Bernini, and is one of the absolute highlights of any visit to Italy.
Price (per group):
€ 224.66 + cost of admission ticket per person.
Please note: Admission to museums indicated is NOT included.
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