The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant'Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.
Much of the tomb contents and decorations have been lost since the building's conversion to a military fortress in 401 and its subsequent inclusion in the Aurelian Walls by Flavius Augustus Honorius. The urns and ashes were scattered by Visigoth looters during Alaric's sacking of Rome in 410, and the original decorative bronze and stone statuary were thrown down upon the attacking Goths when they besieged Rome in 537, as recounted by Procopius. An unusual survivor, however, is the capstone of a funerary urn (probably that of Hadrian), which made its way to Saint Peter's Basilica and was incorporated into a massive Renaissance baptistery.
Hadrian's tomb :
The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian, also called Hadrian's mole, was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 135 AD and 139 AD. Originally the mausoleum was a decorated cylinder, with a garden top and golden quadriga. Hadrian's ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138 AD, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138 AD. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217 AD.
The urns containing these ashes were probably placed in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building. Hadrian also built the Pons Aelius facing straight onto the mausoleum – it still provides a scenic approach from the center of Rome and the right bank of the Tiber, and is renowned for the Baroque additions of statues of angels holding aloft elements of the Passion of Christ.
Decommissioned in 1901, the castle is now a museum, the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo.
Popular culture :
The Castel Sant'Angelo was featured in Dan Brown's 2000 novel Angels & Demons. The location was the secret lair for the Hassassin and contained the last existing church of the Illuminati. The Passetto di Borgo was described as a secret passageway between the Vatican and the Castel. It subsequently appeared in the 2009 film based on the novel Angels & Demons. The Castel has also appeared in the film Roman Holiday.
The Castel is one of the settings of Endymion and The Rise of Endymion, books in the Hyperion Cantos by author Dan Simmons. However, it is set on the fictional planet Pacem. It serves as a prison and site of the torture of several protagonists in the novels. The Castel is featured prominently in Puccini's opera Tosca. The Castel serves as the prison and location of execution of Mario Cavaradossi. Floria Tosca also throws herself from the rooftop after discovering Cavaradossi's death to escape capture by Scarpia's henchmen. In 1980, two American rock bands performed concerts outside the Castel. Kiss performed in August and The Ramones performed in September.