A few weeks ago, we went to a special evening opening of the Castel Sant'Angelo in which extra rooms and areas of the castle were open to visitors. I have to tell you that I was like a little kid on a giant playground. It was so much fun! I knew I was going to be too busy taking it all in so the first thing I did was pass my camera off to my boyfriend. Therefore, I give all credit for the great night shots in this post to him. We started the visit by catching up to the English guided tour when it was about halfway through. As far a guided tours go it wasn't the best but considering it did not cost extra and we learned a few things, I was glad we caught up to it. And after the tour we got the chance to go explore on our own.
From the top of the Castel and the fortress walls are some awesome views of Saint Peter's Basilica and the Pont Sant'Angelo as well as the rest of Rome. While I was trying to keep up with the tour, English Boy was falling behind with the camera. He had fun taking pictures and I've been having a lot of fun editing them. This is one of my more artistic edits of the view of Saint Peter's.
So here is brief history of Castel Sant'Angelo... It was originally build by Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Then a few hundred years later it was turned into a military fortress to defend Rome against invaders. Eventually the popes took it over and turned it into a castle and a prison. The castle got its name from the legend that one of the popes saw the Archangel Michael appear at the top of the castle. Now the castle is a museum showing the history of the building as well as art and military weapons.
The differences in the building seem to me to be layered almost like a cake. It is really interesting to walk through each layer. The architecture, the functions and overall feel of the place change as you make your way through. I think my favorite part is the ancient roman mausoleum because, one, I am a sucker for ancient roman history. And two, I just love the old and mysterious vibe of it while walking along a giant spiral ramp that goes up the Castel. The ancient Romans had some amazing structures and if I could go back in time it would be to see the roman empire at its peak.
When the popes turned the fortress into a castle, a wall was built that connected the castle and the Vatican. It was used by the popes to escape to the castle in times of trouble. This wall was one of the areas open to visitors during this night opening. Having stopped to have dinner at the Castel resaurant we were in a hurry when we finally got to walk along the wall before the museum closed, but there was no way we were going to miss it. It started as a barely lit narrow path with high walls. Then going through a doorway, we were inside the wall that had only narrow slits to see out of. Once we got to a set of stairs we climbed to the top of the wall and headed for the Vatican.
Eventually we had to make our way back as it was blocked off at the end. But it was really cool walk where not many people get to visit. It was also strange to one moment be in an ancient mausoleum/old castle to suddenly looking down at the more modern streets of Rome. At one point along the wall we were walking by someone's open apartment window and we could watch their TV and see into their kitchen. It felt so much like the rest of Rome does in which you find yourself constantly in a mix of ancient and modern times.
This evening opening was one of the most interesting things I've done in Rome. It makes me definitely want to take advantage of more summer events and festivals here. I hope you all liked this post. I'm sorry I haven't posted in a long time. I give no excuses and will only say…I'm working on it.