Castle to Cathedrals

Castle to Cathedrals Tour

On this all-day photography tour we start from the Castel Sant'Angelo, and enter as soon as it opens. The Castle, which was the Renaissance Popes' fortress and residence, would have been the starting point for the Popes of the 15th and 16th centuries when leaving in procession to claim the Bishophric of Rome at the archbasilica of Saint John in Lateran, being the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. After leaving the castle and crossing over Hadrian's bridge we will pass through Campo Marzio and climb to the Quirinal Hill, the site of the Palace of the Italian president, but at one time also the Popes' summer residence. We will also visit the Monti area, noted for its local neighbourhood atmosphere. Our tour  concludes with two of the most important Roman basilicas, Santa Maria Maggiore and finally St. John in Lateran.

Meeting point:- In front of the Main entrance to the Castel Sant Angelo.   

Meeting time. 8.50 am.

Main points of interest:-
Castel Sant'Angelo - Ponte Sant'Angelo - Via dei Banchi Nuovi - Via del Governo Vecchio - Piazza dell'Orologio - Piazza Pasquino and Pasquino, Rome's talking statue - Piazza Navona -  Trevi Fountain - Palazzo Quirinale - Rione Monti - Santa Maria Maggiore - Saint John in Lateran.

Duration 8 hours plus a break for lunch
Approximate walking distance 6 Kms


Castel Sant'Angelo


Built in 135 AD by the Emperor Hadrian as a Mausoleum for himself and his dynasty, all the emperors of the Antonine and of the Severian line were entombed here up to Caracalla (who died in 217 A.D.) Therefore the final resting place of the Emperors Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Comodus and Septimius Severus. It became part of Rome's defences in the early 5th century, and proved to be an excellent fortress when it saved the Vatican from being overun by first the Visigoths in 410 and later from the Vandals of Genseric. It became known as the Castle of the Holy Angel after 590 A.D. when, during a papal procession, Pope Gregory the Great is said to have seen a vision of the archangel Michael re-sheathing his sword announcing the end of a plague epedemic afflicting Rome at that time. As the safest place to live in Rome during the tumultuous centuries from around 900 to the end of the Avignon Papacy ownership was coveted by many of the pre-eminent Roman families. It was in the hands of the Orisin family when one of their own was elected Pope Nicholas III in 1277, who decided to transfer part of the Apostolic See to the castle for greater security. Nearly two hundred years later Nicholas V had a papal residence built inside of the castle and many Popes from then on would use the castle as a safe haven from the perils of Rome, each adding to the grandeur and comfort of the apartments. The Borgia pope Alexander VI transformed the residence into a sumptuous regal palace, most of which was demolished under Urban VIII to make way for extra fortifications in 1628.


Piazza Navona


Rome's most elegant square, it follows the contours of Domitian’s athletics stadium over which it sits. Always lively and full of portrait painters, mime artists and street performers, its centre piece is Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers, and Boromini's church of Saint Agnes, two architectural rivals who each vied for attention and commissions from various popes during the Baroque period in the 17th century.



First built by Agrippa in 27BC and dedicated to all the gods. Hadrian restored it in the 2nd Century AD after it had been badly damaged.  The entrance is  under a porch supported by sixteen monolithic granite columns. Its most famous feature is the self supporting antique dome with its round central opening. As a pagan temple after Christianity became Rome's official religion it would have been under threat of despoilment had the Bizantium Emperor Phocus not gifted the building to Pope Boniface in 609. Even then another Bizantium Emperor, Constans, stripped the roof of its Syrian bronze tiles later that century. Situated in the lively and bustling Piazza della Rotonda full of pavement cafes surrounded by Renaissance buildings.


Trevi Fountain.

Nicolà Salvi’s masterpiece built in 1732 to mark the end of the Aqua Vergine, a twenty mile long ancient Roman aquaduct and canal. Famous for being the setting for many film scenes, the most famous of which of course “La Dolce Vita” by Fellini. Anita Ekberg had no problem wading in but apparently Marcello Mastroianni polished off a bottle of vodka in order to brave the cold water. Don’t go wading in now, just throw a coin into the fountain to ensure your return to Rome.

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