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Facts About Italy and Italians
Part 3

31.   In Rome, there is a famous building called il Castel Sant' Angelo. - the Castle of the Holy Angel. 
It was built beside the River Tiber - il Tevere - around the year 134 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. 
In Italian he is known as l'Imperatore Adriano.   This emperor is also famous for commanding the construction of Hadrian's Wall in the north of England.

 

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Originally, the building was intended as the mausoleum for the emperor.  In other words, he was building his own future tomb! 

The original name for the building was il Mausoleo di Adriano - Hadrian's Mausoleum.

 

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The emperor also arranged for the construction of a bridge to span the River Tiber and to lead to his mausoleum.  The bridge was called Hadrian's Bridge - il Ponte di Adriano.

Over the centuries, the mausoleum has also been used as a castle, a military fortress and as a prison.

According to a legend from the late 6th. century,  an angel (the Archangel Michael) was seen hovering above the mausoleum.  The angel announced to the people of Rome that the terrible outbreak of the plague was coming to an end.   Soon afterwards, the names of both the building and the bridge were changed to il Castel Sant'Angelo - the Castle of the Holy Angel and  il Ponte Sant'Angelo - the Bridge of the Holy Angel in honour of the Archangel Michael. 

A statue of the Archangel Michael - San Michele Arcangelo - was placed on the rooftop of the mausoleum to commemorate the apparition of the Archangel in the 6th century.  The current bronze statue was created by the Flemish sculptor Pieter Antoon Verschaffelt and replaced an earlier one.  It was placed on the rooftop in 1753.

Image by Michele Bitetto