Hadrian had it built as a mausoleum for himself and his family. In order to have an easy access to this sepulchre from the area of Campo Marzio a bridge was built crossing the Tiber river, the Elio Bridge, which was inaugurated in 134 A.D.
ITINERARY: Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Angel’s Castle
construction of the mausoleum was completed after the death of Hadrian
(138 A. D.), in 139 A. D., by Antoninus Pius: immediately after his death
Hadrian was buried in another place at Pozzuoli (near Naples). The edifice
had a base in brick with a side of 89 mt and 15 mt high, which supported
the tomb, a circular structure 64mt in diameter and 21mt high. The exterior
was completely covered by veneer marble. Today's entrance which substitutes
the original one is about 3mt higher. From there a square room (vestibulum)
with a niche which contained the huge statue of Hadrian.
In the Capitoline Museums is also on display a stone upon which it is possible to see the foot print of the Angel when he stopped to announce the end of the plague. In 1277 the castle was linked with the Vatican by way of a covered passage known as the "passetto". The prisons were terrible, accounts survive of the tortures inflicted in its dungeons, and of the famous prisoners such as Benvenuto Cellini, incarcerated in its notorious San Marocco Cell. He tried to escape but in vain and when closed in the underground cells he painted a Christ on the wall of which we still have some remains. In the funeray chamber of the emperors took refuge Cola di Rienzo in 1347 and pope Clement VII during the sack. Under Leo X and Pius IV representations were staged here and till the first years of last century the Girandola, a firework created by Michelangelo himself was lit up here. Today the castle houses a museum and its rooms are splendidly decorated
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