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Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo

On Friday, March 23, I visited the famous Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. I have wanted to see this building in its entirety since I first visited Rome junior year of high school. I had seen the outside many times but now I finally had the opportunity to step inside and walk the halls and passages. I must admit, a big reason I like this building so much is because of its appearance in the video game Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The game franchise was one of my favorites growing up. Okay, it’s still a fun series and I am excited to play it more when I get home. Castel Sant’Angelo serves as a fortress and hideout for the antagonist in the video game. During one mission the player must scale the walls of the castle, sneak past countless guards on their patrols, and kidnap the wife (and sister) of the bad guy. Breaking into that fortress was always so challenging and now I know why.

Built in the second century AD, the castle is a huge cylindrical tower of stone and brick. It has been a prison, a fortress, a hideout for fleeing popes, and an apartment complex for wealthy political leaders. It was first built as a mausoleum for the Roman emperor Hadrian to store his remains and those of his family. Since construction began, the tower was built upon gradually as different popes and emperors took power and added what they wished to the foundation. So many of Rome’s ancient structures have been reduced to ruins over time but this castle still stands tall overlooking the Eternal City. I took a solo tour and slowly worked my way up to the top, where I got some great pictures of the entire city.

Inside the castle you’ll find weapons used by guards that worked there. Swords and incredibly long, heavy guns encased in glass give you a sense of how intimidating those guards must have been. Each viewpoint has an informational sign that guides you through your own tour. There are lavish apartment suites and guest rooms used by the rich popes and clergymen who lived there. My favorite parts were the various traps and obstacles put in place to ward off invaders and attackers. If Rome was to be attacked, the rich people taking shelter in the fortress would have been protected by a moat, trap doors, catapults and cannons.

It’s kind of weird thinking of what this building used to be, compared to what it is now. I sat in a cafe built into one of the upper floors and sipped an overpriced cappuccino. Centuries ago people may have died in that same space, fighting to build and protect a powerful city. What was once a powerful symbol of Rome’s dominance is now a tourist museum that the locals probably mean to visit but never get around to it. (Hello Willis Tower and Chicago Cultural Museum) I want to make more of an effort to visit places like this at home. If you can’t be a tourist in your own city, why live there? Of course, we don’t have any landmarks with that much history in them, but we do have some really great sights and things to do. Sometimes seeing places like Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome only make me want to be home so I can explore our landmarks too.

Michael The Arch Angel watched over Rome



An examples of armor worn by castle guards.




Many famous Roman landmarks can be seen from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo




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