As you cross this historic bridge take in the elegance of it statues, gaze across the River Tiber and consider the pilgrims that walked over the bridge throughout the centuries.
The Ponte Sant’Angelo is an ornate Roman-era bridge spanning the River Tiber. The bridge is centrally located and offers a picturesque walking route from central Rome to the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican.
Take a stroll across the bridge and spot all its different aspects. Originally called the Pons Aelian, the crossing was completed by the Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 134. The emperor built it as a connection from Rome to his planned mausoleum on the opposite side of the river, which is now the fortress museum you can see ahead of you.
Imagine the thousands of people who have passed over this bridge throughout the centuries, many of them pilgrims on their way to Saint Peter’s Basilica. During the Middle Ages, pilgrims were forced to use the bridge to reach the basilica and it was known as Pons Sancti Petri, or bridge of St. Peter, during these times.
Both the bridge and the mausoleum have been restructured many times over the centuries and both are now named after the Holy Angel due to a vision by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century.
Major alterations were made after a balustrade collapsed under the weight of pilgrims crossing the bridge in 1450.
Statues of St. Peter and St. Paul greet you on your entry to the bridge on the southern side. Look up at the 10 statues of angels that line the bridge and note how each one is different. These statues are a later addition to the bridge and were commissioned by Pope Clement IX in the late 1660s. The famous artist Bernini was entrusted with their creation and each marble angel holds a symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Ponte Sant’Angelo is free to enter for all and remains a popular and busy bridge to this day. As well as being a remarkable creation that is steeped in history, it offers an interesting and easy connection between the most visited parts of Rome. Tourists, locals and souvenir vendors can be seen mingling on the bridge during the day, so come in the early morning or late evening for a more serene experience.