Ponte Sant’Angelo or The “Bridge of Angels”
Ponte Sant’Angelo – “Bridge of Angels”
Ten strikingly beautiful angel sculptures ,designed by famous sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, line the spectacular travertine marble made “Ponte Sant’Angelo” or “Bridge of Angels” in Rome. Each sculptured angel symbolizes a part from the story of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death by crucifixion. Statues of the saints Peter and Paul watch over the entrance way of the bridge.
History of the bridge
The 1349 bridge was built in between the banks of the Tiber river in 134 AD by Emperor Hadrian in order to connect the center of Antique Rome with his newly built mausoleum (today better known as Castel Sant’Angelo). At the time the bridge was known as the “Aelian Bridge”, which simply meant “Bridge of Hadrian”. For many years the bridge was used as a passageway for Christian pilgrims on their way to St. Peter’s Basilica. The current name of Sant’Angelo is used since the 7th century for a legend in which Archangel Michael was seen atop the castle with his sword drawn to indicate the ending of the plague of 590 AD. The impressive Statue of Michael can now be seen on top of Castel Sant.Angelo, facing the bridge. During the 16th century, the bridge was used as a place to display bodies of the executed in order to convey a warning to the people.
In 1669, Pope Clement IX had commissioned the making of the sculptures we can appreciate today along the bridge, by famed Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who decided to perfectly fit the statues with the bridge’s name and purpose. Bernini himself only finished the actual making of two angels – the Angel with the Superscription “I.N.R.I.” and the angel with the Crown of Thorns (these two though were kept by Clement IX for his own pleasure. They are now visible in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte), Non the less Bernini’s design and vision of the bridge were kept in mind and were brought to life by his successors.
We will pass by the Sant’Angelo Bridge on our following Segway Tour: