Bridge of the Holy Angel (Ponte Sant'Angelo) in Rome


The Bridge of the Holy Angel is a pedestrian bridge over the Tiber River, built in 134–139 ​​AD. e. by the Roman emperor Hadrian (76 - 138 AD) - is one of the oldest structures in Rome that has survived to this day.

The length of the bridge is 106 meters and five spans, the width is 20 meters. The structure was built of hard travertine material on the outside, softer tuff on the inside and faced with marble.

The bridge was built in order to connect the city center with the Adrian Mausoleum, today known as the Castle of the Holy Angel. The mausoleum was built in 139 by the emperor for himself and his family members. Over the years, the castle managed to stay both a mausoleum, and a fortress, and a prison; now the military-historical museum is located within its walls.

A dark page in the medieval history of the bridge: from the end of the 14th century, when the Castel Sant'Angelo began to be used as a prison, on the left side of the bridge, as a measure to intimidate the population, the corpses of criminals executed in the nearby square were hung on display.

Sculptures on the bridge of the Holy Angel

Today the Sant'Angelo Bridge is known for its Baroque sculptures, they are its hallmark and distinctive signs. However, initially the bridge was not decorated with sculptures, and in front of the entrance to the bridge, the Arc de Triomphe was erected.

The tragedy that occurred in 1450 led to the fact that the appearance of the bridge was changed. 1450 was considered a special year - the "year of absolution", in this regard, the number of pilgrims to the Vatican increased dramatically, and during one of the religious holidays, a great crush, under the pressure of the crowd, the railings were broken, and 172 people died in the waters of the Tiber. After that, the Arc de Triomphe, which made it difficult to cross the bridge, was destroyed, and in memory of the tragic event, two chapels were built on both sides of the bridge, in the name of Mary Magdalene and the Holy Babies.

In 1535, Pope Clement VII replaced the chapels near the bridge with sculptures of the Apostles Peter (the work of the sculptor Lorenzetto) and Paul (the work of the sculptor Paolo Romano). The Apostle Peter was depicted with a book, the Apostle Paul with a broken sword and a book. Today we can see these sculptures at the entrance to the bridge of the Holy Angel, on the side opposite the castle. Later, under Pope Paul III, the figures of Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses were added to these two sculptures by the master Raffaello da Montelupo (1505-1567).

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These figures were made of plaster and stood on the bridge until 1669, when Pope Clement IX decided to change the decoration of the bridge and replace the plaster sculptures with new ones. The execution of this order was entrusted to the famous sculptor and architect Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) and his son Paolo. As conceived by Bernini, the decor of the bridge was to consist of 10 statues, 5 on each side of the bridge. Bernini designed sketches for 10 marble statues of angels, each representing the suffering of Jesus Christ.

In the hands of each angel is one of the instruments, personifying the sufferings of Christ. Each sculpture has an inscription - a quote from the Holy Scriptures. Two out of ten sculptures were made by the master Bernini himself together with his son, the rest of the sculptures were made by his students, according to the sketches. But Bernini's sculptures were never installed on the Sant'Angelo Bridge, since by order of Pope Clement IX they were transferred to the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, and their copies were installed on the bridge.

The sculptures of angels still adorn the balustrade of the Saint Angel Bridge today:

  • Angel with a crown of thorns personifies an episode from the Passion of Christ, when the Roman soldiers put a crown of thorns on the head of Christ before being crucified. The inscription on the sculpture reads: In aerumna mea dum configitur spina (spikes are attached to me). Bernini's original authorship was replaced by a copy made by his student Pietro Paolo Naldini.
  • Angel with a scroll and the inscription INRI - a tablet with such an inscription was nailed to the cross above the head of Jesus. The inscription stands for "Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of the Jews." The inscription on the sculpture: Regnavit a ligno deus (The Lord reigned from the tree)... The original of this sculpture was also made by Bernini, then transferred to the church of Sant Andrea delle Fratte, but the copy installed in its place was also made by Giovanni Lorenzo and Paolo Bernini.
  • Pillar angel - in the hands of the angel is a fragment of the column to which Christ was tied during interrogation by Pontius Pilate. The inscription on the sculpture reads: Tronus meus in columna (and my throne is on a column); sculptor - Antonio Ragio.
  • Angel with a whip which they scourged Christ during interrogation by Pontius Pilate. The inscription on the sculpture: In flagella paratus sum (I'm ready for wounds); sculptor - Lazzaro Morelli.
  • Angel with a cross on which the Savior was crucified. The inscription on the sculpture: Cuius principatus super humerum eius (whose reign will be on his shoulders); work of Ercole Ferrat.
  • Angel with a sponge — Christ was given a sponge soaked in vinegar instead of water to quench his thirst. The inscription on the sculpture reads: Potaverunt me aceto (and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink); sculpture by Antonio Giorgetti.
  • Angel with a spear with which the soldier killed Christ. The inscription on the sculpture: Vulnerasti cor meum (You who betrayed my heart); sculptor - Domenico Guidi.
  • Angel with nails by which Christ was crucified. The inscription on the sculpture reads: Aspiciant ad me quem confixerunt (And they will look at Him, whom they pierced); sculptures - Girolamo Lucenti.
  • Angel with Sudarium (Veronica's Veil) symbolizes the episode from the Passion when Jesus carried the cross, a woman named Veronica wiped his face with a piece of cloth, and his face was imprinted on the matter. The inscription on the sculpture: Respice faciem Christi tui (Look at the face of your Christ); sculpture by Cosimo Fancelli. On the pedestal of the statue, you can see the trail of a cannonball, which fell into the sculpture in 1870, during the battles for the unification of Rome and Italy. By the force of the blow, the figure of the angel was thrown into the Tiber, but then, after restoration, took its place on the bridge again.
  • Angel with Dice and Robe - in the hands of the angel the clothes of Christ, which the soldiers played among themselves with dice. The inscription on the sculpture: Super vestem meam miserunt sortem ("Lots were cast on my clothes), sculpture by Pietro Paolo Naldini.
Sculpture of an angel with a spear on the bridge of the Holy Angel

The history of the name of the bridge

Throughout its long history, the bridge has been known by several names. Initially, the bridge was named after the emperor "Hadrian's Bridge" and "Aelia's Bridge", whose full name sounded like Publius Aelius Traian Hadrian.

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In 590, according to legend, the bridge and the mausoleum of Hadrian were named “Saint Angel”. At a time when an epidemic of plague was raging in Rome, at the top of the mausoleum of Hadrian, Pope Gregory I saw the archangel Michael, sheathed his sword. This sign was regarded as good news, and, indeed, the plague soon receded. After this event, the castle was renamed the Castel Sant'Angelo, and the bridge, respectively, the Bridge of the Sant'Angelo. Later, the figure of the Archangel Michael was installed on the roof of the castle.

And in the 16th century, when St. Peter's Cathedral was built in the Vatican and thousands of pilgrims rushed to it along the Hadrian's Bridge, a new name for the bridge began to be used - "St. Peter's Bridge"

Getting there

The location of the attraction is the center of Rome. A walking tour of this part of the city can include sightseeing of the many attractive tourist spots nearby: the Castel Sant'Angelo, of course, or the nearby Piazza Navona. The nearest metro station of line A is Ottaviano or Lepanto (Ottaviano, Lepanto line A).

The bus also takes you to the Pont de Sant'Angelo:

  • Bus number 280 runs to the Lungotevere Tor Di Nona - Rondinella stop.
  • Buses No. 5, 15, 20, 34, 46, 62, 64, 190 ° F, 916, 916 ° F - to the stop Corso Vittorio Emanuele - Ponte Vittorio.
  • Bus 40 - to the Borgo Sant'Angelo stop.

The geographic coordinates of the Holy Angel Bridge are 41 ° 54'6 ″ N 12 ° 27'59 ″ E.

Tourist bus stop for the most important places in the capital of Italy - Vaticano.

In general, of course, the center of Rome is worth exploring on foot, because literally on every street you can find an unimaginable number of sights, incredible antiquities, picturesque cafes, green parks, or just interesting places not listed in guidebooks.

It seems that it is completely impossible to make a detailed guide to Rome, because Rome - the Eternal City - can be explored indefinitely, constantly discovering and leaving for tomorrow a lot of unknown.

Bridge of the Holy Angel in Rome on the Google maps panorama

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This famous landmark of Rome is a favorite destination for wedding photo shoots. It should be noted that the city, like Italy as a whole, has become one of the popular destinations of the so-called "wedding tourism".