Ponte Sant'Angelo

Coordinates: 41°54′07″N 12°27′59″E / 41.90192°N 12.46645°E / 41.90192; 12.46645
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Ponte Sant'Angelo

Pons Aelius
Photo of the Ponte Sant'Angelo bridge
Ponte Sant'Angelo, Rome
Coordinates41°54′07″N 12°27′59″E / 41.90192°N 12.46645°E / 41.90192; 12.46645
Other name(s)Aelius Bridge
Total length135 m (443 ft)
Height7 m (23 ft)
No. of spans5
DesignerGian Lorenzo Bernini
Click on the map for a fullscreen view

Ponte Sant'Angelo, originally the Aelian Bridge or Pons Aelius, is a Roman bridge in Rome, Italy, completed in 134 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian (Publius Aelius Hadrianus), to span the Tiber from the city centre to his newly constructed mausoleum, now the towering Castel Sant'Angelo. The bridge is faced with travertine marble and spans the Tiber with five arches, three of which are Roman; it was approached by means of a ramp from the river. The bridge is now solely pedestrian and provides a scenic view of Castel Sant'Angelo. It links the rioni of Ponte (which was named after the bridge itself), and Borgo, to which the bridge administratively belongs.


Starting with the early Middle Ages, the original name was forgotten: after the ruin of Nero's Bridge, pilgrims were forced to use this bridge to reach St Peter's Basilica, hence it was known also with the name of "bridge of Saint Peter" (pons Sancti Petri). In the sixth century, under Pope Gregory I, both the castle and the bridge took on the name Sant'Angelo, explained by a legend that an angel appeared on the roof of the castle to announce the end of the plague. Dante writes in his Divine Comedy that during the jubilee of 1300, due to the large number of pilgrims going and coming from Saint Peter, two separate lanes were arranged on the bridge.[1] During the 1450 jubilee, balustrades of the bridge collapsed, due to the great crowds of the pilgrims, and many drowned in the river. In response, some houses at the head of the bridge as well as a Roman triumphal arch were pulled down in order to widen the route for pilgrims.

In 1535, Pope Clement VII allocated the toll income of the bridge to erecting the statues of the apostles Saint Peter (holding a book, with the pedestal inscription Rione XIV) by Lorenzetto, and Saint Paul (holding a broken sword and a book, with the pedestal inscription Borgo) by Paolo Romano to which subsequently the four evangelists and the patriarchs were added to other statues representing Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. For centuries after the 16th century, the bridge was used to expose the bodies of those executed in the nearby Piazza di Ponte, at the left bridge head. In 1669 Pope Clement IX commissioned replacements for the aging stucco angels by Raffaello da Montelupo, commissioned by Paul III. Bernini's program, one of his last large projects, called for ten angels holding instruments of the Passion: he personally only finished the two originals of the Angel with the Superscription "I.N.R.I." and the Angel with the Crown of Thorns, but these were kept by Clement IX for his own pleasure. They are now in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, also in Rome.

At the end of the 19th century, due to the works for the construction of the Lungotevere, the two Roman ramps which linked the bridge with the two banks were destroyed, and in their place two arches similar to the Roman ones were built.

For the Great Jubilee in 2000, the Lungotevere on the right bank between the bridge and the castle became a pedestrian area.

On 21 October 2019 Austrian activist Alexander Tschugguel threw five Pachamama statues, which he had stolen from a display at Santa Maria in Traspontina as part of the Amazon Synod, off of the bridge into the Tiber.[2][3]

List of angels[edit]

Image Title by Sculptor Inscription
Angel with the Column by Antonio Raggi Tronus meus in columna[4]
Angel with the Whips by Lazzaro Morelli In flagella paratus sum[5]
Angel with the Crown of Thorns by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and son Paolo (original at Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, copy by Paolo Naldini) In aerumna mea dum configitur spina[6]
Angel with the Sudarium (Veronica's Veil by Cosimo Fancelli Respice faciem Christi tui[7]
Angel with the Garment and Dice by Paolo Naldini Super vestimentum meum miserunt sortem[8]
Angel with the Nails by Girolamo Lucenti Aspicient ad me quem confixerunt[9]
Angel with the Cross by Ercole Ferrata Cuius principatus super humerum eius[10]
Angel with the Superscription by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and son Paolo (original at Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, copy by Giulio Cartari Regnavit a ligno deus.[11]
Angel with the Sponge by Antonio Giorgetti Potaverunt me aceto.[12]
Angel with the Lance by Domenico Guidi Vulnerasti cor meum.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dante, Comedy, Inferno, XVIII, 25-33
  2. ^ "Austrian man claims he threw 'Pachamama' statues into the Tiber". Catholic Herald. November 4, 2019.
  3. ^ Edward Pentin (2019-11-04). "Austrian Catholic: Why I Threw Pachamama Statues into the Tiber". Ncregister.com. Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  4. ^ My throne is upon a column
  5. ^ I am ready for the whip. (Ps. 37:18, Sixto-Clementine Vulgate Ed.)
  6. ^ [I am twisted] in my affliction, whilst the thorn is fastened upon me. (Ps. 31:4, Sixto-Clementine Vulgate Ed.)
  7. ^ Look upon the face of Thy Christ.
  8. ^ Upon my vesture they cast lots. (Ps. 22:18)
  9. ^ They shall look upon me whom they have pierced. (Zech. 12:10)
  10. ^ Whose government shall be upon His shoulder. (Isa. 9:6)
  11. ^ God has reigned from the Tree. [of the Cross]
  12. ^ They gave me vinegar to drink. (Ps. 68:22)
  13. ^ Thou hast ravished my heart.
  • O’Connor, Colin (1993), Roman Bridges, Cambridge University Press, pp. 65f, ISBN 0-521-39326-4

External links[edit]

Media related to Ponte Sant'Angelo (Rome) at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Ponte Milvio
Landmarks of Rome
Ponte Sant'Angelo
Succeeded by
Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran