Saturday, 9 May 2009

Castel S.Angelo

Castel S.Angelo sits on the other side of the Tiber like a vast wedding cake that's waiting for the icing to be applied. It was designed by Emperor Hadrian as his tomb and work started on it in A.D.135. Originally it was covered from tip to toe in pure white marble and the top was planted with several thousand cypress trees. At the very top stood a giant bronze fir cone which is now in the Vatican gardens. For a Scot it's interesting to think that the Emperor Hadrian and his successor Septimius Severus , both of whom were laid to rest here, had both been to Britain and had tried to deal with my fellow countrymen. The mausoleum survived intact for five hundred years but was eventually plundered by the Goths who tore open the tombs of the Caesars in search for gold. After that it was all downhill until it was converted into a fortress for the Popes. Right at the top you'll find the beautifully decorated bathroom of Pope Clement VII built in 1527 - a daintier more incongruous discovery in this vast fortess it would be hard to imagine.

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