A Famous Bridge in Rome: Ponte Sant’Angelo and a Walk by the Tiber

Springtime in Rome is perfect for the leisurely exploring of one of her captivating river neighbourhoods.  This particular 20 minute walk by the Tiber, really packs a punch.

Crossing the Tiber to the right bank at Ponte Cavour, the walk passes the Palace of Justice, a famous bridge in Rome called Ponte Sant’ Angelo or the Bridge of Angels and Castel Sant’Angelo, before finishing at St. Peter’s Basilica.

What more could we want?

A Famous Bridge in Rome: Ponte Sant'Angelo and a Walk by the Tiber

Ponte Sant' Angelo with it's five arches Rome

Cafe Antico Ruschena

Coffee of course!

Or a snack or Aperitivo at Antico Cafe Ruschena opposite Ponte Cavour. This classic Roman Cafe on the ground floor of historic Blumenstihl Palace, has friendly staff and the line-up of snacks through those imposing glass doors, is impressive.

Antico Cafe Ruschena close to Ponte Sant' Angelo and the Vatican

Inside are comfy armchairs and classic old school Roman waiters to serve, while outside at a river view table, a waiter happily takes our photo. Grabbing a filled roll to go is popular and the majority of clientele are Prati residents.

  • Positioned close to Ponte Sant Angelo and The Vatican.
  • Lungotevere Dei Mellini N. 100193 Rome, Italy

 

The Rione of Prati

You have to love the oh so different neighbourhoods or Riones in Rome. While we loved staying in classically charming Trastevere, which literally means Beyond the Tiber, Prati is all business-like by week and sociable by week-end. It is an elegant upmarket residential area – after all, it is home to the Supreme Court. While in the area you might like to detour to Via Cola di Rienzo, to shop where the Roman’s do. To locate it, continue on from Ponte Regina Margherita.

 

The Supreme Court of Rome.

A short riverside walk beneath trees on Lungotevere Prati leads by the impressive baroque styled Palace of Justice Palazzo di Giustizia which houses the Supreme Court of Rome.

Supreme Court Rome on a walk beside the Tiber

This bronze statue (1926) of a Chariot drawn by four horses by Sicilian sculptor, Ettore Eximenese sits atop the building, while ten sculptures of notable jurists (see above) punctuate the ground floor facade.

Corte Di Cassazione (Supreme Court) Bronze Sculpture of a Chariot drawn by four horses by Sicilian Sculptor Ettore Eximenes Rome

It’s twenty year construction period (ending in 1911) and over the top embellishments led to a corruption commission investigation (1912) and the nickname of The Bad Palace.

Ponte Sant’Angelo and Castel Sant’Angelo

The Ponte, or bridge, has been known by several names.

As the Bridge of Hadrian, it was completed in 134 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian. It spanned the Tiber south of his newly completed Mausoleum of Hadrian – today’s Castel Sant’Angelo. The now pedestrian bridge is lined with travertine marble as is the nearby Bad Palace.

At one time it was known as the Bridge of St. Peter when it was used to access St. Peter’s Basilica.

In the 6th Century both the Castle and Bridge became known as Ponte St Angelo when an angel supposedly appeared on the roof of the castle to announce the end of the plague.

Although there are more than 20 bridges spanning the Tiber in Rome alone, it is one of only a few ancient bridges remaining today.

 

Castel Sant' Angelo and Ponte Sant' Angelo Rome

Love Locks.

Love Locks on Ponte Sant' Angelo Rome

Angels on Ponte Saint’Angelo

From 1535 Angel Statues began appearing, the first commissioned out of bridge tolls by Pope Clement VII.

In 1669 Pope Clement IX commissioned the famous Italian Sculptor Bernini to sculpt ten new angels for the roman bridge. The angels were to hold ten objects associated with Christ’s crucifixion.

Bernini designed them all but only sculpted two himself. The pope decided to keep these himself and replicas were placed on the bridge.

Today the two Bernini statues (the originals) are either side of the high altar in the 17th century church Sant’Andrea della Fratte. The church is open to visitors and is situated 4 blocks north of the Trevi Fountain and 4 south of the Spanish Steps.

Angel carrying the Sudarium (Veronica’s Veil). By Cosimo Fancelli. The veil was used to wipe sweat and blood from Christ’s face as he carried the cross.

Made to Pin.

Angel with Veronica's Veil Ponte Sant' Angelo Rome

Angel Holding Cross by Ercole Ferata.

Angle and Cross Ponte Sant'Angelo Rome

Angel carrying the Column by Antonio Raggi. The column represents what Christ was tied to whilst being flogged.

Angel with the Column on Ponte Sant'Angelo Rome

Angel with the Crown of Thorns. Replica of Bernini’s original. It is the only angel statue whose facial features express sorrow.

Castel Sant'Angelo and Ponte Sant' Angelo Rome

Roman Statues on Pont St Angelo.

Ponte Sant' Angelo with Statues and Lamps as seen on a walk by the Tiber River Rome

Ponte Sant’Angelo facts.

  • Built by Roman Emperor Hadrian in 134AD
  • Built to connect the City to his Mausoleum (now Castel Sant’Angelo)
  • The bridge has five arches (3 are Roman)
  • At the end of 19th Century the two Roman Ramps that connected bridge and banks were knocked down and replaced
  • It connects the Riones (districts) of Ponte and Borgo
  • The bridge is pedestrianised
  • For the Great Jubilee (Roman Catholic celebration) of 2000 –  the area between bridge and castle was pedestrianised
  • During the 1450 Jubilee the bridge balustrades collapsed with many pilgrims drowning in the river
  • For hundreds of years after the 16th Century, the bridge was used to display the bodies of those executed at Piazza di Ponte.

St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, Vatican City

The view of St. Peter’s from the middle of Pont Sant’Angelo.

Pont Sant'angelo looking toward St. Peter's Rome

Standing at the end of the bridge in front of the Castle, there is a straight line of view to St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the most famous buildings in Rome.

Every roman photo needs a Roman Soldier…

From Ponte Sant'Angelo in Rome you can see St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

St. Peter's Basilica Vatican City Rome

20 Minute Walk Rome Map

More Bernini Sculpture in Rome

After learning about Bernini’s two Angel Statues on Ponte St Angelo you might be interested in finding more Bernini sculptures in Rome.

Frequently Asked Questions Answered

Where can I view Bernini’s two original angels?

  • Sant’Andrea della Fratte Church Via di Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, 1, 00187 Roma RM, Italy at the corner of Via di Propaganda.
  • 6.30am – 12.30 and 4 – 7pm.

Castel Sant’Angelo Tickets and Information?

  • Open 9 till 19.30 but ticket office closes 1 hour prior
  • Entrance: 14 Euro Adult. Can be purchased on line for 1 Euro more.
  • Free on 1st Sunday of the Month (arrive early to beat crowds)
  • Open at Night (less crowded) July to September 20.30 till 1 but ticket office closes 1 hour before
  • Roma Pass Holders have a dedicated turnstile

The Castle has been a mausoleum, fortress, prison and now a museum. The exhibits explain the history of the Castle/Rome and the views from the top are great. Use free wifi to download the free App after ticket purchase. Information blocks throughout. A lovely Roof top vine covered Cafe with views.

When is the best time to do this walk?

When it comes to walking I always like to start nice and early when I’m feeling fresh, however we enjoyed our late afternoon walk. A coffee at Antico Ruschena was a lovely relaxing way to start and the coffee gave us the boost we needed. A Twilight walk by the river is about as romantic as it gets and with the sun setting behind St. Peter’s it is a good choice.

Besides Antico Ruschena and the Castle Cafe, where else should I eat in Prati?

Raf Restaurant, via Plinio n. 17, is in the heart of the Prati district, between Castel Sant’Angelo and Piazza Cola di Rienzo. The Menu offers Burgers, Pasta, Pizza, Salads and some Vegetarian and Gluten Free meals. Dine inside or out. Open 12 noon to 12 midnight. Metro A stop – Lepanto.

Download your Rome Tourist Attractions Map here.

Dan Brown Fan?

Two of the sites mentioned in this walking tour: Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Square are visited as part of a 4 hour 56 Euro Angels and Demons Tour Rome.

Thanks for reading and commenting – we really appreciate it.

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